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Full text of "The American gift book; or, Military souvenir .."

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3 . 

E> |S " 

A 5 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847, 
By D. Appleton & Company, 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New- York. 


The progress of the present eventful contest with 
Mexico has been fruitful of romantic and thrilling inci- 
dents. For ages preceding there have occurred no events 
in our history of so striking and brilliant a character. 
Many of these are mere episodes — actions in which a 
few individuals only were concerned, — and some are of 
a touching, almost a domestic nature. The record of 
the less important incidents of a great national war is 
apt to perish. It is fugitive in its nature, and is speedily 
lost, if not seized at the moment, and placed in a per- 
manent form. 

To rescue many of these anecdotes, incidents and 
personal traits from oblivion, and give them a permanent 
form by uniting them with outline sketches of the great 
events and characters of the war, is the purpose of the 
A.merican Gift Book. 


The mention of the subject reminds us of the lead- 
ing character of the time — the indomjjable hero of Fort 
Harrison, Okee-chobee, Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, 
Monterey, and Buena Vista. To celebrate his actions, 
and portray his splendid traits, is glory enough for any 
volume. To him, if our book has any interest, the credit 
is due ; for he acts the history, and the romance too, 
which a thousand pens are emulous to write. 

Long live Old Rough and Ready ! 



General Taylor • . . . . .13 

General Taylor at Fort Harrison ... 20 

Battle of Okee-chobee . . . • .24 

Gallant Action of Captain Thornton on the Rio Grande . 37 

Battle of Palo Alto . . . . . .39 

Battle of Resaca de la Palma .... 45 

Matamoras, on the Night of May 9th, 1846 . . 50 

Palo Alto and Resaca . • • 53 

Colonel May . . . . . .54 

Death of Major Ringgold .... 58 

Reflections on Mexico . . . • .59 

Resaca de la Palma ..... 67 

Brigadier General Worth . . • • .69 

General Worth at Monterey . • 75 

Monterey . . . . . . .81 

Fall of Colonel Watson at the Storming of Monterey . 82 

Army Scenes in Mexico . . . • .86 

The City of Monterey ..... 98 

Graphic Account of the Battle of Buena Vista . .100 




The Mississippians . . . . • 112 

General Wool . . . • . .114 

The Kentuckians at Buena Vista . 122 

Buena Vista, By Capt. A. Pike . . . .125 

The Death of Colonel Yell . . . .128 

General Taylor at Buena Vista . . . . 129 

General Twiggs . . . . .131 

Captains O'Brien and Bragg at Buena Vista . . 134 

The Field of Buena Vista . . 137 

General Taylor's Visit to Arista's Hacienda . • . 140 

Old Tom, Colonel May's War Horse ... 144 
An Incident of the Battle Field . . . .148 

Rio Bravo, A Mexican Lament . . .151 

Kit Carson . . . . . 153— 

Vera Cruz ...... 168 

Bombardment of Vera Cruz . . . .173 

Capitulation of Vera Cruz . . . .177 

Applying to the Boss . . . . .178 

General Scott . . . . . .182 

Remember the Alamo . • • . .191 

Slavery in Mexico . • • . .192 

Fire Away ! . . • • . 195 

The Battle of Cerro Gordo . . . . 196 

The Friar Jarauta . . . . .199 

The Two Pollies ...... 201 

Colonel Doniphar/s March . . • . .207 

The Rio Grande ...... 217 

The Prisoners of Encarnacion .... 220 

Capture of Tabasco . . . • . 228 



War ........ 233 

The Battle of Huajutla ..... 239 
A Soldier's Letter to his Mother . 245 
General Lane's Description of the Battle of Buena Vista . 250 
Affecting Incident . . . . . .261 




Portrait of Gen. Worth Feuderich Armstrong- 1 

Portrait of €ol. May Van Loan Armstrong 54 

Portrait of Gen. Wool W. Croome Armstrong 114 

Portrait of Gen. Tyviggs W. Croome Armstrong 131 

Portrait of Gen. Taylor Maj. Vinton - .. . .Armstrong 140 

Portrait of Gen. Scott Healy Armstrong 182 

Portrait of Com, Conner Root Armstrong 173 

Portrait of Gen. Shields Van Loan Armstrong 196 


Defence of Fort Harrison J. Emerson Minot 20 

Battle of Okee-chobee . G. T. Devereux.. J^T. B. Devereux.. 30 

Gallant Action of Capt. Thornton.. .. G. T. Devereux..H. Bricher 39 

Gen. Taylor ordering Capt. May to > _ _ „ m 

\ G. T. Devereux..G. T. Devereux. .46 
charge the Mexican battery ) 

Death of Maj. Ringgold G. T. Devereux. .H. Bricher 58 

Gen. Worth at Monterey G. T. Devereux. .G. T. Devereux. .75 

Monterey (from the Bishop's Palace) . G. T. Devereux. .G. T. Devereux. .98 

Battle of Buena Vista W. Croome H. Bricher 110 

Death of Col. Yell G. T. Devereux.. Minot 128 

Col. May and his War-Horse W. Croome .Minot 144 

Landing of the Troops at Vera Cruz. G. T. Devereux.. Minot 168 






Major- General Zachary Taylor was born on the 
24th of November, 1784, in Orange County, Virginia. 
While he was but a child, his father, Richard Taylor, 
removed to Kentucky, at that time an uninterrupted wil- 
derness. In this place, amid scenes of wild sublimity, 
daring adventure, and savage combat, young Zachary 
passed his early days. The territory was then called 
by the natives 'the dark and bloody ground/ and the tales 
of burnings, and scalpings, and murder, which belong to 
that period, show that it was not an undeserved title. 
Used to these occurrences, Zachary soon acquired a de- 
gree of activity and endurance, unknown to the young 
men of a more congenial soil. It is said that on one 
occasion he swam the Ohio River and back again, when 
it was swelled with the floods of March ; and while at 
school he was the champion of all his associates. 

When he had arrived at his twenty- fourth year, the 
news of the outrage on the Chesapeake roused the whole 
country into indignation. Burning for revenge, the hardy 
western men poured to the standard of their country, 
eager for the commencement of hostilities. Among the 
foremost of these was Taylor, who was received into the 



army as first lieutenant of the 7th infantry, on the 3d of 
May, 1808. After the war commenced, and the surrender 
of Hull had endangered all the northwestern frontier, 
Taylor was ordered to the north, and entered the command 
of General Harrison. Here he so distinguished himself 
as to receive a commission of captaincy, and soon after 
was intrusted with the command of a separate post. 
This was Fort Harrison, a small stockade defence in the 
territory of Indiana, garrisoned by only fifteen men who 
were fit for duty ; the remainder of the command being 
sick or disabled. Besides these, there were nine women 
and children. 

Before daylight on the morning of the 5th of Septem- 
ber, 1812, the Miamies attacked the fort in great force, 
firing a large block-house which formed part of the en- 
trenchments ; and while the flames were raging, com- 
menced with their rifles on the garrison. The block- 
house was in flames before it was discovered, and the 
sight appalled every heart except that of the commander, 
It was well known that the fire was each moment open- 
ing a road for the savages ; and this, with the certainty 
of death by a cruel foe, the remembrance of their late 
losses, and the effects of recent sickness,, all heightened 
by the screams of women and children, and the yells of 
hundreds of Indians, made that night-scene awful to the 
handful of men, who constituted the garrison. Two 
leaped from the pickets and disappeared in the darkness, 
and the remainder were so paralyzed that they would 
scarcely listen to their commander. The gallant young 
captain, however, was equal to the emergency. His 
determination was, not to yield the fort whatever might 



be the force of the enemy ; and he now ran from man to 
man, unfolding his plan of defence, and exhorting them 
to tear away the communications with the block-house, 
so that its flames would not communicate with the other 
buildings. By these exertions, he once more revived 
their hope, and they rushed to work with all the alacrity 
of renewed confidence. One party tore away every 
thing adjoining the burning house, while at the same 
time the remainder worked with almost incredible exer- 
tion to advance a breastwork in front of the falling build- 
ing, so as to supply its place and thus defeat the aim of 
the Indians. Both were successful : the fort was saved, 
and the enraged enemy, after shooting the cattle and 
horses found in the neighborhood, sullenly retreated. 
The garrison had but three men killed, including one 
of the two who leaped the stockade in despair ; the other 
got back to the fort, badly wounded. Disheartened by 
this unlooked-for defence, the Indians made no further 
attempt upon the fort. The garrison, however, suffered 
extremely from scarcity of provisions, as all the raw 
corn had been taken by the savages, besides the cattle 
and horses. 

For the brave defence of Fort Harrison, Captain Tay- 
lor received the brevet rank of major, dated from the day 
of attack. This was the first brevet ever conferred in 
the American army. When the war closed, Taylor still 
remained in the army, improving himself not only in 
military tactics, but also in various branches of general 
knowledge. It is difficult, however, to trace his history 
in the interim between the English and Florida wars ; the 
life of a soldier is rarely conspicuous in time of peace. 



The dangers and horrors of the Florida war are fa- 
miliar to every American. It was a period of dis- 
appointment and mortification ; a field where the strong 
were made feeble, where numbers were almost use- 
less, and the veteran of other fields had to learn war 
again. Perhaps no nation with the comparative strength 
of the United States, has ever fought another to so little 
advantage ; and her numerous sons, whose bones now 
moulder amid the swamps of that fatal region, bear 
mournful witness to the cost of the Seminole war. 

Taylor, however, was more fortunate than his brother 
officers. Instead of being obliged to drag out a tedious 
campaign, whose every advantage was with the enemy, 
he succeeded in bringing them to a general engagement 
in which they were defeated. The battle was fought 
near a large lake called by the Indians Okee-Chobee. 
In a dense forest of swamp and undergrowth, they were 
posted near this lake, where they considered themselves 
so secure as to send a challenge to Colonel Taylor to 
fight them if he wished. On the 25th of December, in 
the afternoon, the Americans reached the opposite shore 
of the lake, after a most tiresome march, through 
marshes, swamps, rivers, and dense forests. The ad- 
vance guard experienced much difficulty in crossing, and 
at the moment of landing received a galling fire from the 
Indians, under which the commander, Colonel Gentry, 
and several of his men, fell. The party broke in terror, 
and rushed through the water, as far as the baggage, 
which had been left a great distance in the rear. The 
Indians now poured from their thickets, confident of 
similar success against the main body. Two infantry 



companies advanced to meet them, and the conflict was 
bloody and stubborn. Of five companies of the 6th in- 
fantry, only one officer escaped unhurt, and one of these 
companies had but four members uninjured. The fierce 
charges of the Indians were, however, successfully re- 
sisted ; they were repulsed again and again, and finally 
driven in confusion through the woods, and along the 
borders of the Okee-Chobee. The loss on both sides was 
heavy, and altogether this may be considered as one of 
the fiercest battles of the Florida war. 

In speaking of this battle, Colonel Taylor said : " I 
trust I may be permitted to say that I experienced 
one of the most trying scenes of my life, and he who 
could have looked on it with indifference, his nerves 
must have been very differently organized from my own. 
Besides the killed, there lay one hundred and twelve 
wounded officers and soldiers, who had accompanied me 
one hundred and forty-five miles, most of the way through 
an unexplored wilderness, without guides ; who had so 
gallantly beaten the enemy, under my orders, in his 
strongest position ; and who had to be conveyed back 
through swamps and hammocks, from whence we set 
out, without any apparent means of doing so. This ser- 
vice, however, was encountered and overcome, and they 
have been conveyed thus far, and proceeded on to Tampa 
Bay on rude litters constructed by the axe and knife 
alone, with poles and dry hides — the latter being found 
in great abundance at the encampment of the hostiles. 
The litters were conveyed on the backs of our weak and 
tottering horses, aided by the residue of the command, 
with more ease and comfort to the sufferers than I could 



have supposed possible : and with as much as they could 
have been in ambulances of the most improved and mod- 
ern construction.''* 

The bravery of Colonel Taylor was not unrewarded. 
The brevet rank of brigadier-general was immediately 
conferred upon him. and he was highly commended in 
the annual report of the Secretary of War to Congress. 
Soon after, he was intrusted with the chief command in 
Florida, and established his head-quarters near Tampa 
Bay. But the nature of his duties prevented his parti- 
cipating in any other battle with the Indians, and in 1S40 
he was relieved from his arduous station by General 
Armistead. General Taylor was ordered to take com- 
mand of the southern division of the army, with which 
he remained until the annexation of Texas to the United 
States, when the relations with Mexico assuming a bel- 
ligerent aspect, he was placed in command of the " Army 
of Possession."' which was destined to defend the newly 
acquired territory against expected invasion. His ac- 
tions subsequent to this, it is scarcely necessary to relate. 
They are familiar to every one. and Palo Alto. Monterey 
and Buena Vista are now household words, whose very 
essence is praise and admiration to General Taylor. 

In manners and address General Taylor is perfectly 
frank and easy, and greatly enjoys the society of intelli- 
gent friends. He is noted for his plainness, and want of 
all affectation, and this quality endears him to both officers 
and soldiers. Numerous incidents are related of him in 
this respect ; his departure from Point Isabel en route for 
Fort Brown was in a Jersey ivagon. of ponderous materi- 
als and questionable shape ; and the talk-loving deputies 



of Mexico, have learned to preserve proper taciturnity in 
his presence. This remarkable trait in a great military 
man, must be carefully distinguished from the careless- 
ness, which is merely its caricature, and by which many 
individuals, w T ith more enthusiasm than sound sense, have 
absolutely slandered, although unwittingly, the man whom 
they were laboring to praise. There never was a more 
silly, childish sentiment, than that put into the General's 
mouth at Buena Vista, concerning his white horse. 
" Some officer,*' says report, " remarked that old Whitey 
was rather too conspicuous an object for the General to 
ride." "Oh!" replied Taylor, "the old fellow missed 
the fun at Monterey, on account of a sore foot, and I am 
determined that he shall have his share this time." 

General Taylor is above such nonsense at any time ; 
but amid the horrors of that battle-field, when death was 
stalking among his bosom friends, as they lay panting at 
his feet, his soul was attending to other interests than 
the situation of his white horse. 

While on this part of our subject we would refer to 
the kindness of heart which has ever been a trait in the 
General's character. The extract we have given from 
his report of Okee-Chobee, is an excellent illustration. 
It is not often that a military man will acknowledge to 
his government, that his heart is moved by the scenes of 
a recent victorious battle field ; yet Taylor does so with 
a deep and solemn pathos. His letter to Henry Clay, 
announcing the death of young Clay, is another illus- 
tration; and anecdotes from private sources furnish nu- 
merous others. It is evident that he takes no delight in 
war ; but that, if duty permitted, he would willingly 


resign his command, as did General Washington, and 
retire to the substantial enjoyments of private life. It is 
pleasing to contemplate the character of General Taylor. 
Amid the bustle and wrestling and intriguing, the low 
resorts and disgusting rejoicings of the politicians that 
infest every public station of our country, the unruffled, 
unambitious course of one man, forms a most refreshing 
and wholesome relief. Entitled to all honor, he asks 
none ; worthy of the highest post that can be conferred, 
he does not seek it ; almost idolized by an entire people, 
his only ambition is to perform his duty. Although the 
most distinguished man in the army, his personal appear- 
ance is that of the poorest soldier ; and although the 
theme of observation and remark to every beholder, he 
appears not to know it. 


The defence of Fort Harrison is interesting not only 
on account of its display of military abilities, but as being 
the first event of any importance in w r hich Gen. Taylor 
had an opportunity to display the qualities which have 
since rendered him so conspicuous. It was an emer- 
gency in which the young soldier carves out, in a great 
degree, his future prospects ; either by unfolding talents 
which will one day make him illustrious, or by exhibit- 
ing a barrenness which will for ever bar his advance, 
except by other means than those of merit. 



Fort Harrison was a small stockade-work situated in 
Indiana, which was at that time an unknown wilderness. 
Its fortifications were an upper and a lower block-house, 
and a main fort with two bastions. These, with a suffi- 
cient garrison, would have been ample to resist any force 
of the Indians ; but sickness had so reduced the soldiers, 
that at the arrival of Captain Taylor at the fort, he found 
only fifteen men fit for service. 

On the evening of the 3d of September, 1812, the 
reports of four guns were heard at a short distance from 
the fort. This was in the direction of a field where two 
young men, citizens of the place, were making hay ; but 
notwithstanding the apprehensions of the commander for 
their safety, he did not think prudent to investigate the 
matter that evening. Early on the following morning a 
small party was despatched for that purpose, who soon 
ascertained that their suspicions were but too true. Each 
of the young men had been shot with two balls, and after- 
wards shot and scalped in a dreadful manner. They 
were buried in the fort. 

In the evening of the same day, about forty Indians 
presented themselves to the garrison, and gave so unsa- 
tisfactory an account of the object of their visit, that 
Captain Taylor was convinced that they were but spies. 
Accordingly he examined the men's arms, completed 
their cartridges, and increased his guard. He then cau- 
tioned the soldiers to be vigilant, and appointed an over- 
seer over the whole. Having made these arrangements, 
he was obliged to retire to rest, as he was extremely debi- 
litated by a recent severe attack of fever. 

About 11 o'clock the guns of one of the sentries broke 



upon the gloom, and the captain was immediately on his 
feet. The fort was in confusion ; a large party of In- 
dians had fired the lower block-house, and commenced 
an attack. The men were ordered to throw water upon 
the burning building, but so completely were they para- 
lyzed by the sight of the flames and the yells of the In- 
dians, that they ceased all effort, and gave themselves up 
for lost. At the same time the women and children 
rushed in among the soldiers, uttering the most piercing 
cries, which, united with the yells of hundreds of Indians, 
the crackling of flames, and firing of muskets, made the 
night terrible. Two men leaped the pickets in despair ; 
all was uproar and distress. 

Yet during the whole of this trying scene, young 
Taylor maintained his self-possession ; and he alone 
saved the fort. Passing from man to man, he reminded 
them that their only chance of safety lay in action ; ex- 
horting them at the same time to tear away the wood- 
work between the burning building and the surrounding 
ones, so that the former only would be consumed. His 
coolness re-inspired the soldiers, they set to work with an 
energy greater than their former supineness ; one part 
threw on water, another tore away the roof, and a third 
labored to complete a breastwork in advance of the block- 
house, so that the gap opened by its destruction might be 
immediately filled. Their labor was amply rewarded ; 
the building was consumed without injuring others, and 
its fall only made visible to the astonished savages a new 
obstacle still more formidable than the block-house. Their 
yells were now terrible, and they poured into the fort an 
incessant shower of balls and arrows until six o'clock on 



the morning of the 5th. They then withdrew from reach 
of the garrison, drove up all the horses and hogs that 
were in the neighboring fields, and shot them in sight of 
the fort. They also secured all the cattle belonging to 
the Americans, thus cutting off the latter from their most 
necessary food. No further molestation was given to 
the garrison, and on the following morning the enemy 
moved out of sight. 

In this assault, the Americans lost three men killed 
and three wounded. It is somewhat strange, that all 
those who lost their lives, did so through carelessness or 
disobedience to orders. The first was a little deranged, 
and had been with the party who mounted the burning 
building, on which he remained after all had been ordered 
down. The second was in one of the bastions, and 
having killed an Indian, he was so eager to inform his 
companions that he neglected to stoop, and was imme- 
diately shot. The third was one of those who leaped 
the picket. He was caught by the Indians, and cut to 
pieces. His companion was dreadfully mangled, but 
succeeded in escaping to the fort. The assailants suf- 
fered severely ; a considerable number were found on 
the field, and they carried several away. 

For some days after the attack the garrison suffered 
severely from want of provisions, there being nothing 
left them, save a very scanty allowance of green corn. 
On the 16th they were relieved by Colonel Russel, who 
reached the fort with six hundred mounted rangers, and 
five hundred infantry. 

For this spirited defence, Captain Taylor was re- 
warded with the brevet rank of major, dating from the 


4th of September. This was the first brevet ever con- 
ferred in the American army. 


This battle was fought on the 25th of December, 
1837, between the Americans, under Colonel Taylor, 
and the Seminoles and Mickasukies, commanded by 
their chiefs, Alligator and Sam Jones. The United 
States army had now been in the Florida service for 
two years, and the colonel commanded the first brigade, 
stationed at Fort Gardner, south of the Withlacoochee. 
On the 19th of December he received a communication 
from Major- General Jesup, informing him that all hopes 
of bringing the war to a close by negotiation, through 
the interference or mediation of the Cherokee delegation, 
were at an end, and that Sam Jones, with the Micka- 
sukies, had determined to " fight to the last." It also 
directed him to proceed with the least possible delay, 
against any portion of the enemy he might hear of, and 
to destroy or capture them* 

The next morning after receiving this communica- 
tion, the colonel left an adequate force under two officers 
to protect the depot, and marched with the remainder of 
his command, having with him but twelve days' rations, 
his means of transportation not enabling him to carry 
more. His force was composed of Captain Morris's 
company of the fourth artillery, consisting of thirty-five 


men ; the first infantry, under Colonel Davenport, one 
hundred and ninety-seven strong ; the fourth infantry, 
under Lieutenant-Colonel Foster, two hundred and seven- 
ty-four ; the Missouri volunteers, one hundred and eighty ; 
Morgan's spies, forty-seven ; and thirty pioneers, thir- 
teen pontoniers, and seventy Delaware Indians ; making 
in all, exclusive of officers, one thousand and thirty-two 
men. The greater part of the Shawnees had been de- 
tached, and the remainder refused to accompany him, 
under pretext that many of them were sick, and the rest 
without moccasins. 

The army moved down the west side of the Kissim- 
mee, in a southern course, towards Lake Istopoga. The 
colonel was induced to take this route for several reasons. 
He had learned that a portion of the enemy were in that 
direction, and imagined that if General Jesup should fall 
in with the Mickasukies, and drive them before him, they 
might attempt to escape by crossing the Kissimmee, from 
the east to the west side of the peninsula, between Fort 
Gardner and its entrance into Okee-Chobee, in which 
case he might be near at hand to intercept them. He 
also wished to overawe such of the Indians as had been 
making propositions to give themselves up, but had been 
slow to fulfil their promise ; to erect block-houses and a 
small picket- work on the Kissimmee, forty or fifty miles 
below the fort, for a third depot. By this means he 
hoped to obtain a knowledge of the country, as he had no 
guide to rely on, and also to open a communication with 
Colonel Smith, who was operating by his orders, up the 
Caloosehatchee or Sanybel river. 

In the evening of his first day's march, Colonel Tay- 



lor met the Indian chief Jumper, with his family and a 
part of his band, consisting of fifteen men, some of them 
with families and a few negroes, on his way to deliver 
himself up, in conformity to a previous arrangement with 
the colonel. The whole consisted of sixty-three persons, 
and were conducted by Captain Parks, a half-breed at 
the head of the friendly Indians, both Shawnees and 
Delawares. The army encamped that night near the 
spot, and the next morning, having sent on Jumper and 
his party to Fort Frazer, the colonel continued his 
march, at the same time sending forward three Seminoles 
to gain intelligence concerning the position of the enemy. 
About noon of the same day he sent forward one battalion 
of Gentry's regiment, under the command of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Price, who was ordered "to pick up any strag- 
glers that might fall in his way ; to encamp two or three 
miles in advance of the main force ; to act with great 
circumspection, and to communicate promptly any oc- 
currence of importance that might take place in his vi- 

About ten o'clock in the morning, Taylor received a 
note from Colonel Price, stating that the three Seminoles 
sent forward in the morning had returned ; that they had 
been near where Alligator had encamped, twelve or fif- 
teen miles in advance of his present position ; that Alli- 
gator had left there with a part of his family four days 
before, under pretext of separating his friends and rela- 
tives from the Mickasukies, preparatory to his surrender- 
ing with them ; that there were several families remain- 
ing at the camp referred to, who wished to give themsc. Ives 
up, and would remain there until Colonel Taylor took 



possession of them, but who were in great danger of 
being carried away that night by the Mickasukies, who 
were encamped at no great distance from them. 

In consequence of this intelligence Colonel Taylor 
put himself at the head of his mounted men a little after 
midnight, and after directing Lieutenant-Colonel Daven- 
port to follow him early in the morning, he commenced 
his march, joined Price, crossed Istopoga outlet, and soon 
after daylight took position at the encampment referred 
to, and had the satisfaction to find that the inmates, 
amounting in all to twenty-two individuals, had not been 
disturbed. One of their number informed him that Alli- 
gator was anxious to deliver himself up ; and this indi- 
vidual, who was an old man, was subsequently employed 
on a mission to inform the chief that, if sincere in his 
professions, he should have a conference next day at a 
place designated on the Kissimmee. 

Upon the arrival of Colonel Davenport with the in- 
fantry, Colonel Taylor moved on to the place of meeting 
with Alligator, near which, as he reached it late in the 
evening, he encamped. At eleven o'clock the old Indian 
returned, bringing a very equivocal message from Alli- 
gator, whom, according to his report, he met accidentally. 
He also stated that the Mickasukies were still encamped 
on the opposite side of the river, where they had remain- 
ed for some days, with a determination to fight the United 
States troops. In this humor the colonel determined to 
indulge them as soon as possible. Accordingly, the next 
morning he took the old Indian for his guide, crossed the 
Kissimmee, and reached Alligator's encampment, which 
was situated on the edge of " Cabbage-Tree Hammock, 55 




in the midst of a large prairie. From the appearance of 
this and other encampments in the vicinity, together with 
the many evidences of slaughtered cattle, it was evident 
that the population must have numbered several hun- 

Before Taylor commenced this march he had laid out 
a small stockade fort for the protection of a future depot, 
and left the pioneers, pontoniers, eighty-five sick and dis- 
abled infantry, and a portion of the friendly Indians, 
together with all his artillery and heavy baggage, under 
the protection of Captain Monroe. This enabled him to 
move much faster than if encumbered by wounded and 
baggage, and brought him nearly on a level with his 
wary enemy. 

Soon after the arrival, the spies surprised another en- 
campment situated at a small distance from the first, in 
the midst of a swamp. It contained a small party of 
young men, one old one, and some women and children, 
who raised a white flag, and were taken prisoners. They 
were Seminoles, and informed Colonel Taylor that the 
Mickasukies, headed by A-vi-a-ka (Sam Jones) were at 
the distance of about twelve miles, securely encamped 
in a swamp, and prepared to fight. Upon receiving this 
information the commander dismissed the old man, and 
after making provision for those who came in, moved 
forward under guidance of the Seminoles, toward the 
camp of the Mickasukies. 

Between the hours of two and three in the afternoon, 
the army reached a very dense cypress swamp, through 
which they passed with great difficulty, and under con- 
tinual apprehension of an attack from a concealed foe. 



The necessary dispositions for battle were arranged at 
the same time ; but the soldiers crossed without gaining 
sight of the enemy, and encamped for the night on the 
opposite side. During the passage of the rear, Captain 
Parks, who was in advance with a few friendly Indians, 
encountered two of the enemy's spies, and succeeded in 
capturing one of them who was on foot. He was a 
young warrior of great activity, armed with an excellent 
rifle, fifty balls in his pouch, and an adequate proportion 
of powder. . This Indian confirmed the information pre- 
viously received from other prisoners, and in addition, 
stated that a large body of Seminoles, headed by John 
Cohua, Coacoochee, Alligator, aud other chiefs, was en- 
camped five or six miles from the Americans, near the 
Mickasukies, the latter being separated by a cypress 
swamp and a dense hammock. 

The army moved forward at daylight the next morn- 
ing, and after marching five or six miles reached another 
cypress swamp, on the borders of which was a deserted 
camp of the Seminoles. It had evidently contained sev- 
eral hundred persons, and exhibited very plain manifes- 
tations of having been abandoned in a hurry, as several 
fires were still burning, and quantities of beef lying on 
the ground unconsumed. 

Upon reaching this encampment the troops were 
again arranged in order of battle, and again disappointed 
in their expectation of seeing an enemy. After remain- 
ing for some time, they crossed the swamp and entered 
a large prairie in their front, on which two or three 
hundred cattle and a number of Indian ponies were 
grazing. Here was captured another young warrior, 



armed and equipped like the former. - He pointed to a 
dense hammock on the right, about a mile distant, in 
which he said the Indians were situated, and waiting to 
give battle. 

In this place the final disposition was made for an 
attack. The army was drawn up in two lines : Mor- 
gan's spies and the volunteers under Gentry, in extended 
order, formed the first line, with instructions to enter the 
hammock, and if attacked and hard pressed,- to fall back 
in the rear of the regular troops, out of reach of the 
enemy's fire; the second line was composed of the 
fourth and sixth infantry, who were instructed to sus- 
tain the volunteers. The first infantry was held in 

These arrangements being completed, the whole force 
moved on in the direction of the hammock, and after 
proceeding about a quarter of a mile reached the swamp, 
on the opposite side of which the enemy were stationed. 
This was three-quarters of a mile wide, extending on 
the left as far as the eye could reach, and on the right to 
a part of the swamp and hammock they had just 
crossed, through which ran a deep creek. It consisted 
of an oozy mass of mud and water nearly two feet deep, 
over which waved a thick growth of coarse ^saw-grass," 
as tall as a man, and was utterly impassable to cavalry, 
and nearly so to foot. In consequence of this, all the 
men were dismounted at the edge of the swamp, and the 
horses and baggage left under a suitable guard. At the 
same time Captain Allen was detached with the two 
companies of mounted infantry to examine the swamp 
and hammock to the right ; and in case of not finding 



the enemy in that direction, to return to the baggage ; 
but in either case, if he heard a heavy firing, immediately 
to join Colonel Taylor. 

These arrangements being satisfactorily completed, 
the army crossed the swamp in order of battle. The 
volunteers and spies had scarcely reached the borders of 
the swamp, when a heavy fire was opened upon them by 
a large body of Indians. This was returned for a short 
time with considerable spirit, but they soon lost their gal- 
lant commander, Colonel Gentry, who fell mortally 
wounded. After this misfortune they fled in disorder, 
and instead of forming in the rear of the regulars, as had 
been directed, they retired across the swamp, to their 
baggage and horses ; nor would they again enter into 
action as a body, although efforts were made by Colonel 
Taylor's staff to induce them to do so. At this success, 
the Indians rushed forward upon the second line, at the 
same time discharging a heavy fire of musketry. They 
were, however, coolly met and driven back by the fourth 
and sixth infantry. The heat of battle was principally 
borne by five companies of the latter : yet they not only 
sustained it firmly, but continued to advance until their 
commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson, and his adju- 
tant, Lieutenant Center, were killed : they were then 
obliged to retire tor a short distance, and re-form. So 
great had been the loss of these companies, that every 
officer, with a single exception, together with most of 
the non-commissioned, including the sergeant-major 
and four of the orderly sergeants, was killed or 
wounded ; and one of them had but four members un- 



Lieutenant-Colonel Foster, with six companies, 
amounting in all to one hundred and sixty men. gained 
the hammock in good order, where he was joined by Cap- 
tain Noel, with the two remaining companies of the sixth 
infantry, and Captain Gillam, of Gentry's volunteers, 
with a few additional men. These, by a change of front, 
succeeded in separating the enemy's line, and continued 
to drive them until they reached the Lake Okee-Chobee, 
which was in the rear of the enemy's position, and bor- 
dered their encampment for nearly a mile. As soon as 
Colonel Taylor was informed that Captain Allen was ad- 
vancing, he ordered the first infantry to move to the left, 
gain the enemy's right flank, and turn it. This order 
was executed with promptness and effect ; as soon as the 
regiment got into position the Indians gave one fire 
and retreated, being pursued by the first, fourth, and 
sixth, and some few volunteers, until near night. This 
chase was a most fatiguing one, as the enemy scattered 
in all directions, and the troops were obliged to follow 
over a swampy and rugged surface. 

This action was long and severe, continuing from 
half-past tweL-3 until about three, p. M. The Indians 
had selected the strongest position of the swamp, and 
were covered in front by a small stream, whose quick- 
sands rendered it almost impassable. In addition to this, 
their front was concealed and partly protected by a 
growth of thickly interwoven hammock, and their flanks 
were secured by impassable swamps. They numbered 
about seven hundred warriors, and were led by Alliga- 
tor, Coacoochee, and Sam Jones. 

Colonel Taylor's force amounted to about five hun- 



dred men. only part of whom were regulars. In passing 
the stream they sunk to the middle in mire, and were 
continually exposed to the fire of the enemy ; and for a 
while during the battle, both parties fought hand to hand. 
The Americans lost twenty-six killed, and one hundred 
and twelve wounded. Among the slain were Colonels 
Gentry and Thompson. Captain Van Swearingen. and 
Lieutenants Carter and Brook, all of whom fell at the 
head of their respective commands. The loss of the 
Indians was never ascertained ; they left ten bodies on 
the field, and doubtless carried away a large number, 
according to their invariable practice. During the whole 
engagement the colonel was on horseback, passing from 
point to point, and cheering his men, though he himself 
was exposed to the complete range of the Indian rifles. 

As soon as the enemy were thoroughly broken, Colo- 
nel Taylor turned his attention to the wounded. He had 
previously ordered an encampment to be formed near his 
baggage : and to facilitate his operations, he directed 
Captain Taylor to cross to that spot, and employ every 
individual whom he might find there, in constructing a 
small footway across the swamp. By great exertions 
this was completed a short time after dark, when all the 
dead and wounded, with the exception of the body of a 
private, which could not be found, vwre carried across 
in litters. 

In speaking of this disastrous though successful action, 
Colonel Taylor, in his official communication to the de- 
partment, says : — " I trust that I may be permitted to 
say, that I experienced one of the most trying scenes of 
my life, and he who could have looked on it with indif- 



ference, his nerves must have been very differently or- 
ganized from my own. Besides the killed there lay one 
hundred and twelve wounded, officers and soldiers, who 
had accompanied me one hundred and forty-five miles, 
most of the way through an unexplored wilderness, with- 
out guides, who had so gallantly beat the enemy, under 
my orders, in his strongest position, and who had to be 
conveyed back through swamps and hammocks, from 
whence we set out, without any apparent means of doing 
it. This service, however, was encountered and over- 
come, and they have been conveyed thus far, and pro- 
ceeded on to Tampa Bay, on rude litters, constructed 
with the axe and knife alone, with poles and dry hides ; 
the latter being found in great abundance at the encamp- 
ment of the hostiles. The litters were conveyed on the 
backs of our weak and tottering horses, aided by the 
residue of the command, with more ease and comfort to 
the sufferers than I could have supposed ; and with as 
much as they could have been in ambulances of the most 
improved and modern construction." 

The day after the battle Colonel Taylor and his com- 
mand remained at their encampment, occupied in taking 
care of the wounded, and in the sad office of interring 
the dead. They also prepared litters for the removal of 
the wounded, and detached a portion of the mounted men 
to collect the horses and cattle which had been left by 
the enemy. Of the former they found about a hundred, 
many of which were saddled, and three hundred oxen. 

On the morning of the 27th, Colonel Taylor left the 
encampment, and at about noon next day reached the post 
on the Kissimmee, where he had left his heavy baggage. 



Finding the stockade which he had ordered Captain 
Monroe to construct, nearly in a state of completion, he 
left two companies and a few Indians to garrison it, and 
proceeded towards Fort Gardner. Arriving here, he sent 
on the wounded to Tampa Bay, with the fourth and sixth 
infantry ; the former to halt at Fort Frazer. He him- 
self remained at Fort Gardner with the first, in order to 
make preparations to retake the field, designing to do so 
as soon as his horses could be recruited, and his supplies 
in a sufficient state of forwardness to justify that mea- 

In his despatch, the colonel speaks in high terms of the 
behavior of the regulars, especially of the sixth infantry, 
and designates particular actions of the following officers, 
most of whom had been engaged with him in the cam- 
paigns of Florida, and some have since been known in a 
more conspicuous theatre of action — Lieutenant-Colonel 
Davenport, Colonel Foster, Major Graham, Captain Allen, 
Lieutenant Hooper, Captain Noel, Lieutenant Wood, 
Captain Andrews, Lieutenant Walker, Colonel Gentry, 
Captain Gillam, Lieutenant Blakely, Captain Childs, 
Lieutenants Rogers, Flanagan, Hase, Gorden, Hill, Grif- 
fin, Harrison, McClure, Major Sconce, Captain Taylor, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson, Captain Swearingen, Ad- 
jutant Center, Lieutenant Brook, Major Brant, and Lieu- 
tenant Babbitt. His remarks upon Lieutenant-Colonel 
Thompson deserve remembrance, as displaying a tender- 
ness of heart and warmth of friendship, which enhances 
the merit of all his military performances : 

" It is due to his rank and talents, as well as to his 
long and important services, that I particularly mention 


Lieutenant-Colonel A. R. Thompson, of the sixth in- 
fantry, who fell in the discharge of his duty at the head 
of his regiment. He was in feeble health, brought on 
by exposure to this climate during the past summer, 
refusing to leave the country while his regiment conti- 
nued in it. Although he received two balls from the fire 
of the enemy early in the action, which wounded him se- 
verely, yet he appeared to disregard them, and continued 
to give his orders with the same coolness that he would 
have done had his regiment been under review, or on any 
parade duty. Advancing, he received a third ball, which 
at once deprived him of life ; his last words were — 
6 Keep steady, men, charge the hammock — remember the 
regiment to which you belong.' I had known Colonel 
Thompson personally only for a short time, and the more 
I knew of him, the more I wished to know ; and had his 
life been spared, our acquaintance, no doubt, would have 
ripened into the closest friendship. Under such circum- 
stances, there are few, if any other than his bereaved 
wife, mother and sisters, who more deeply and sincerely 
lament his loss, or who will longer cherish his memory, 
than myself/'' 

The battle of Okee-Chobee had a very beneficial 
influence upon the efforts to subdue the Indians of Flo- 
rida. An officer writing from Fort Bassinger subsequent 
to it, says : " The Indian prisoners now admit that they 
lost twenty killed on the ground, and a great many 
wounded, in the fight with Colonel Taylor. They had a 
strong position and fought well, but were terribly whip- 
ped, and have never returned near the ground since. 
Jumper, Alligator, and other warriors afterwards came 



in, and were subsequently employed by the colonel in 
inducing their hostile companions to surrender them- 
selves ; by this means large numbers delivered them- 
selves to the Americans. Indeed the general policy 
pursued by Colonel Taylor while in Florida, together 
with his industry and perseverance, and the hardy con- 
stitution he possessed, rendered his services immensely 
valuable to the government in subduing the savages and 
giving peace and safety to the southern frontier. The 
country was not insensible of his value, and the depart- 
ment at Washington conferred on him the rank of Bri- 
gadier-General, by brevet, to take date from the battle 
of Okee-Chobee. 


When General Taylor was encamped opposite Mata- 
moras, it was reported that the Mexicans were crossing 
the river to surround him. This made frequent and 
active reconnoissances necessary. 

In consequence of the rumored intentions of the 
enemy, Captain Thornton was despatched on the 24th 
of April, 1846, to the crossing, above the fort, and Cap- 
tain Ker below. Accompanying Thornton were Captain 
Hardee, Lieutenants Mason and Kane, and sixty-one 
men. After proceeding about twenty-six miles, they 
encountered a Mexican, who reported that at a short 
distance, the enemy were stationed to the number of two 



thousand, under General Torrejon. Partly from the 
cowardice of their Mexican guide, and partly from igno- 
rance of the country, they were led into a plantation 
surrounded by a thick chapparal fence, round which 
was concealed an ambush of more than ten times their 
number. Thornton, followed by his command, crossed 
the plantation to the house, where he commenced con- 
versation with one of the residents. While thus en- 
gaged, the enemy took possession of the gate, and now 
for the first time, the party perceived that the chapparal 
was crowded with infantry, supported by cavalry, who 
were preparing for a charge. This was met with gal- 
lantry and success ; but in the struggle Lieutenant Kane 
tvas unhorsed, and the captain became separated from 
his command. The whole Mexican force now poured 
in a destructive fire upon the few men under Captain 
Hardee, who, notwithstanding, rallied and endeavored 
to retreat by way of the river. This he was unable to 
accomplish, and after having eleven men killed, includ- 
ing a sergeant and two other officers, he consented to 
surrender, on condition of his men being treated as pri- 
soners of war, declaring that if this were refused, they 
would continue the battle at all hazards. This was 
acceded to. and the captain and twenty-five men were 
carried into Matamoras. 

The bravery of Captain Thornton deserves notice. 
As we have stated, he met the charge of the cavalry 
with success, but was unable to break the crowded 
lines of the infantry by whom they were supported. 
The chapparal was at this time in one wide blaze of 
fire, and in rushing toward it, the horse of the captain 



made a tremendous leap, completely clearing the whole 
enclosure, and alighted in the midst of the enemy. This 
feat, however, was not performed with impunity ; the 
animal received a severe wound at the very moment 
of its accomplishment, and was subsequently obliged to 
carry his intrepid rider through a host of armed men. 
The captain escaped unwounded. and though both horse 
and rider subsequently encountered a severe fall, he 
succeeded in approaching within about five miles of the 
American camp. But at this place he was intercepted 
by an advance guard of the enemy, and conveyed pri- 
soner to Matamoras. 

Lieutenant Mason was killed before the chapparal, 
and Kane shared the fate of Thornton. 

Notwithstanding the disadvantages against which the 
Americans contended, this affair was a source of Un- 
bounded exultation to the enemy. Besides public re- 
joicing in Matamoras, Arista wrote to General Torrejon 
in terms of congratulation, which would have been con- 
sidered extravagant in General Taylor after the battle 
of Palo Alto. 



The main body of the " Army of Occupation " 
marched under my immediate orders from Point Isabel, 
on the evening of the 7th of May, and bivouacked seven 
miles from that place. 



Our march was resumed the following morning. 
About noon, when our advance of cavalry had reached 
the water-pole of" Palo Alto," the Mexican troops were 
reported in our front, and were soon discovered occupy- 
ing the road in force. I ordered a halt upon reaching 
the water, with a view to rest and refresh the men and 
form deliberately our line of battle. The [Mexican line 
was now plainly visible across the prairie, and about 
three-quarters of a mile distant. Their left, which was 
composed of a heavy force of cavalry, occupied the road 
resting upon a thicket of chapparal, while masses of in- 
fantry were discovered in succession on the right, greatly 
outnumbering our own force. 

Our line of battle was now formed in the following 
order, commanded on the right : 5th infantry, command- 
ed by Lieut. Col. Mcintosh : Major Ringgold's artillery ; 
3d infantry, commanded by Captain L. X. Morris ; two 
eighteen pounders, commanded by Lieut. Churchill, 3d 
artillery; 4th infantry, commanded by G.W.Allen; 
the 3d and 4th regiments composed the 3d brigade, under 
command of Lieut. Col. Garland, and all the above corps, 
together with two squadrons of dragoons, under Captains 
Ker and May, composed the right wing, under the orders 
of Col. Twiggs. The left was formed by the battalion 
of artillery, commanded by Lieut. Col. Childs. Captain 
Duncan's light artillery, and the 8th infantry, under Cap- 
tain Montgomery — all forming the 1st brigade, under 
command of Lieut. Col. Belknap. The train was packed 
near the water, under direction of Captains Crosman and 
Mvers, and protected by Captain Ker's squadron. 

At 2 o'clock, we took up our march by heads of 


columns in the direction of the enemy — the eighteen 
pounder battery following the road. While the columns 
were advancing, Lieut. Blake, of the topographical engi- 
neers, volunteered a reconnoissance of the enemy's line, 
which was handsomely performed, and resulted in the 
discovery of at least two batteries of artillery in the in- 
tervals of their cavalry and infantry. These batteries 
were soon opened upon us ; when I ordered the columns 
halted and deployed into line, and the fire to be returned 
by all our artillery. The 8th infantry, on our extreme 
left, was thrown back to secure that flank. The first 
fires did little execution, .while our eighteen pounders 
and Major Ringgold's artillery soon dispersed the cav- 
alry, which formed his left. Captain Duncan's battery, 
thrown forward in advance of the line, was doing good 
execution at this time. Capt. May's squadron was now 
detached to support that battery, and the left of our posi- 
tion. The Mexican cavalry and two pieces of artillery 
were now reported to be moving through the chapparal 
to our right, to threaten our flank, or make a demonstra- 
tion against the train. The 5th infantry was immediately 
detached to check this movement, and, supported by Lieut. 
Ridgely, with a section of Major Ringgold's battery and 
Capt. Walker's company of volunteers, effectually re- 
pulsed the enemy — the 5th infantry repelling a charge 
of lancers, and the artillery doing great execution in 
their ranks. The 3d infantry was now detached to the 
right as a still further security to that flank threatened 
by the enemy. Major Ringgold, with the remaining 
section, kept up his fire from an advanced position, and 
was supported by the 4th infantry, 



The grass of the prairie had been accidentally fired 
by our artillery, and the volumes of smoke now partially 
concealed the armies from each other. As the enemy's 
left had been driven back, and left the road free, as the 
cannonade had been suspended, I ordered forward the 
eighteen pounders on the road nearly to the position first 
occupied by the Mexican cavalry, and caused the 1st 
brigade to take up a new position still on the left of the 
eighteen pounder battery. The 5th was advanced from 
its former position, and occupied a point on the extreme 
right of the new line. The enemy made a change of 
position corresponding to our own, and after a suspension 
of nearly an hour the action was resumed. 

The fire of artillery was now most destructive — open- 
ings were constantly made through the enemy's ranks 
by our fire, and the constancy with which the Mexican 
infantry sustained this severe cannonade was a theme of 
universal remark and admiration. Capt. May's squadron 
was detached to make a demonstration on the left of the 
enemy's position, and suffered severely from the fire of 
artillery to which it was for some time exposed. The 
4th infantry, which had been ordered to support the 
eighteen pounder battery, was exposed to a most galling 
fire of artillery, by which several men were killed, and 
Capt. Page dangerously wounded. The enemy's fire 
was directed against our eighteen pounder battery and 
the guns of Major Ringgold in its vicinity. The Major 
himself, while coolly directing the fire of his pieces, was 
struck by a cannon ball and mortally wounded. 

In the mean time the battalion of artillery, Lieut. 
Col. Childs, had been brought up to support the artillery 



on our right. A strong demonstration of cavalry was 
now made by the enemy against this part of our line, 
and the column continued to advance under a severe fire 
from the eighteen pounders. The battalion was instantly 
formed in square and held ready to receive the charge 
of cavalry, but when the advancing squadrons were within 
close range, a deadly fire of cannister from the eighteen- 
pounders soon dispersed them. A brisk fire of small 
arms was now opened upon the square, by which one of- 
ficer, Lieut. Luther, 2d artillery, was slightly wounded, 
but a well directed fire from the front of the square 
silenced all further firing from the enemy in this quarter. 
It was now nearly dark, and the action was closed on 
the right of our line, the enemy having been completely 
driven back from his position, and foiled in his attempt 
against our line. 

" While the above was going forward on our right and 
under my own eye, the enemy had made a serious at- 
tempt against the left of our line. Capt. Duncan instantly 
perceived the movement, and by the bold and brilliant 
manoeuvring of his battery, completely repulsed several 
successive efforts of the enemy to advance in force upon 
our left flank. Supported in succession by the 8th in- 
fantry and by Captain Ker's squadron of dragoons, he 
gallantly held the enemy at bay, and finally drove him, 
with immense loss, from the field. The action here, and 
along the whole lirlfe, continued until dark, when the 
enemy retired into the chapparal in the rear of his posi- 
tion. Our army bivouacked on the ground it occupied. 
During the afternoon the train had been moved forward 
about half a mile, and was packed in rear of the new 



" Our loss, this day, was nine killed, forty- four wound- 
ed, and two missing. Among the wounded were Major 
Ringgold, who has since died, and Captain Page danger- 
ously wounded ; Lieut. Luther slightly so. I annex a 
tabular statement of the casualties of the day. 

" Our own force engaged is shown by the field report 
to have been 177 officers and 2111 men — aggregate 2288. 
The Mexican force, according to the statements of their 
own officers, taken prisoners in the affair of the 9th, was 
not less than 6000 regular troops, with ten pieces of artil- 
lery, and probably exceeded that number ; the irregular 
force not known. Their loss was not less than 200 killed 
and 400 wounded — probably greater. This number is 
very moderate, and formed upon the number actually 
counted upon the field, and upon the reports of their own 

" The conduct of our officers and men was every thing 
that could be desired. Exposed for hours to the severest 
trial — a cannonade of artillery — our troops displayed a 
coolness and constancy, which gave me, throughout, the 
assurance of victory/"' 

The tabular statement alluded to in the above letter 
represents that nine non-commissioned officers and pri- 
vates were killed in the battle, and forty-four wounded, 
including three commissioned officers. 





" Early in the morning of the 9th. the enemy, who had 
encamped near the field of battle of the day previous, 
was discoYered moving by his left flank, evidently in re- 
treat, and, perhaps, at the same time to gain a new posi- 
tion on the road to Matamoras, and there again resist our 

" 1 ordered the supply train to be strongly packed at 
its position, and left with it four pieces of artillery — the 
two eighteen-pounders which had done such good service 
on the previous day, and two twelve-pounders which had 
not been in the action. The wounded officers and men 
were at the same time sent back to Point Isabel. I then 
moved forward with the columns to the edge of the chap- 
paral, or forest, which extends to the Rio Grande, — a dis- 
tance of seven miles. The light companies of the first 
brigade, under Capt. C. F. Smith, 2d artillery, and a 
select detachment of light troops, the whole under the 
command of Capt. McCall, 4th infantry, were thrown 
forward into the chapparal, to feel the enemy and ascer- 
tain his position. About 3 o'clock, I received a report 
from the advance that the enemy was in position on the 
road, with at least two pieces of artillery. The command 
was immediately put in motion, and about 4 o'clock I 
came up with Capt. McCall, who reported the enemy in 
force in our front, occupying a ravine which intersects 
the road, and is skirted by thickets of dense chapparal. 
Ridgeley's battery, and the advance under Capt. McCall, 



were at once thrown forward on the road, and into the 
ehapparal, on either- side, while the 5th infantry and one 
wing of the 4th was thrown into the forest on the left, 
and the 3d and other wing of the 4th, on the right of the 
road. These corps were employed as skirmishers to 
cover the battery, and engage the Mexican infantry. 
Capt. MeCalFs command became at once engaged with 
the enemy, while the light artillery, though in a very 
exposed position, did great execution. The enemy had 
at least eight pieces of artillery, and maintained an in- 
cessant fire on our advance. 

" The action now became general, and although the 
enemy's infantry gave way before the steady fire and 
resistless progress of our own, yet his artillery was still 
in position to check our advance — several pieces occupy- 
ing the pass' across the ravine, which he had chosen for 
his position. Perceiving that no decisive advantage 
could be gained until this artillery was silenced, I ordered 
Captain May to charge the batteries with his squadron 
of dragoons. This was gallantly and effectually exe- 
cuted ; the enemy was driven from his guns, and General 
La Vega, who remained alone at one of the batteries, 
was taken prisoner. The squadron, which suffered much 
in this charge, not being immediately supported by in- 
fantry, could not retain possession of the artillery, but it 
was completely silenced. In the mean time, the 8th 
infantry had been ordered up, and had become warmly 
engaged on the right of the road. This regiment, and a 
part of the 5th, were now ordered to charge the batteries ; 
which was handsomely done, and the enemy entirely 
driven from his artillery and his position on the left of 
the road. 


wounded ; thirty-six men killed, and seventy-one 
wounded. Among the officers killed, I have to regret 
the loss of Lieut. Inge, 2d dragoons, who fell at the 
head of his platoon, while gallantly charging the enemy's 
battery ; of Lieut. Chadbourne, of the 8th infantry, and 
Lieut Cochrane, of the 4th, who likewise met their death 
in the thickest of the fight. The wounded officers 
were — Lieut. Col. Payne, Inspector- General ; Lieut. 
Dobbins, 3d infantry, serving with the light infantry 
advance, slightly ; Lieut. Col. Mcintosh, 5th infantry, 
severely (twice) ; Lieut. Fowler, 5th infantry, slightly ; 
Capt. Montgomery, 8th infantry, slightly ; Lieuts. 
Gates and Jordan, 8th infantry, severely (each twice) ; 
Lieuts. Selden, Maclay, Burbank and Morris, 8th in- 
fantry, slightly. 

" I have no accurate data from which to estimate the 
enemy's force on this day. He was known to have been 
reinforced after the action of the 8th, both by cavalry 
and infantry, and no doubt to an extent at least equal 
to his loss on that day. It is probable that 6000 
men were opposed to us, and in a position chosen by 
themselves, and strongly defended with artillery. The 
enemy's loss was very great. Nearly 200 of his dead 
were buried by us on the day succeeding the battle. 
His loss in killed, wounded and missing, in the two affairs 
of the 8th and 9th, is, I think, moderately estimated at 
1000 men. 

" Our victory has been decisive. A small force has 
overcome immense odds of the best troops that Mexico 
can furnish, — veteran regiments, perfectly ea x uipped and 
appointed. Eight pieces 'of artillery, several colors and 


standards, a great number of prisoners (including four- 
teen officers), and a large amount of baggage and public 
property, fell into our hands. 

" The causes of our victory are doubtless to be found 
in the superior quality of our officers and men." 


It is difficult to speak with moderation on these two 
brilliant actions. The excitement, which the first pro- 
mulgation of the news created throughout the Union, 
may be imagined but not described. It created a feeling 
of excitement and enthusiasm — an impulse towards mili- 
tary adventures, throughout the length and breadth of the 
land. Preparations were made in every direction for 
calling forth volunteers, — -increasing the regular army, — 
fitting out vessels of war, — for the display of a land and 
sea force, unprecedented this side of the Atlantic. 

In less than two weeks, the United States, throughout 
their length and breadth, were converted, as it were, into 
a camp. From the most northern part of Maine to the 
orange groves of Florida — from the Atlantic to the Pa- 
cific — nothing was heard of but the din of military prepa- 
rations ; the proclamations of Governors ; the mustering 
of forces, and the shouts of volunteers, produced by a 
nation's leaping at once to arms. In fact, the transition 
of this vast confederacy into one magnificent camp, from 
the first call to arms, was as rapid and as quick as the 
masterly evolutions and admirable discipline which gave 
victory to the American arms in both the battles on the 
Rio Grande. 




How can this sudden military transition — this sub 
lime spectacle of military preparation— be accounted 
for ? It arose only from the perfect freedom of our in- 
stitutions, the equality of our laws, and from the de- 
termined spirit of the American character, The insults 
of a quarter of a century, repeated injuries and spolia- 
tions of the property of American citizens, had aroused 
a peaceful and quiet people, and changed them, as it 
were, into a nation of soldiers, determined to avenge 
themselves, and to chastise the insolence of the Republic 
of Mexico. 



While the battle was raging at Resaca de la Palmar 
thousands of people lined the shores of the Rio Grande, 
listening to each burst of artillery with breathless sus- 
pense. News of victory had reached them the preced- 
ing day, but no conquerors had returned in triumph to 
the city. And now the dread roar of cannon, swelling 
louder, and fiercer, and nearer — what did it portend ? 
The fire of the city was abandoned, and the cheering 
suppressed ; and pale, anxious faces, gazed in racking 
silence in the direction of battle. Soon the dread reality 
was disclosed ; infantry and cavalry burst madly from 
the thicket, dashing aside garment and weapon, as they 
swept toward the river. Then a cry— one of anguish 



and horror — went up from that living mass ; and its hol- 
low tones told tales of poverty and wretchedness for the 
future. Crowd on crowd of terrified soldiers now came 
from the chapparal, and rushed toward the city. Soon 
dense masses filled to sinking the little flat provided for 
their conveyance. The next moment they were hurled 
into the river by the reckless cavalry, who in their turn 
were swept away. Mules loaded with wounded and 
dying were plunged in, and numbers were precipitated 
from the shore. It was an awful scene. Horse tram- 
pled over horse, crushing their riders to earth, and 
trailing their bridles and furniture along the ground ; 
the river was foaming with life, while plunge after 
plunge announced the sad fate of numbers more ; the 
shouts of officers, curses of soldiery, yells of the wounded, 
and shrieks of the drowning, were appalling. Wretched 
beings grasped the flat in agony, only to be murdered 
by those upon it ; and scores of mules, and hundreds of 
soldiers, clenched in each other's embrace, sunk to a 
watery grave. 

Yet dreadful as was this scene, it was but the shadow 
of what Matamoras witnessed during the night. Mules 
were continually entering the city, laden with wounded, 
whose piercing shrieks, as their wounds poured afresh 
at each step, rose above the din and hurry of trampling 
armies. All discipline or order was at an end, and 
thousands of infuriated soldiers poured along the streets 
for rapine and plunder. Women fled to the ball-rooms 
where preparations for victory had been made, and tore 
the wreaths and ornaments from the walls. Scarcely 
had they done so, when hordes of lawless rancheros burst 



upon them, in the hurry of uncontrolled passion. Crime 
and debauchery revelled that night in the halls of Mata- 

Most of the inhabitants expected an assault by Gene- 
ral Taylor, and therefore seized a few of their most 
valuable things and fled into the country. But the evil 
spirit was there also ; and the unfortunate exiles were 
robbed and murdered in the plains, or passes of the 
mountains. Matamoras suffered more that day from 
her own citizens than from the sword of the enemy. 

Such were the scenes in Matamoras on the 9th of 
May. What a comment upon war ! American soldiers 
had gained a victory. But where was their advantage ? 
Were they morally, physically, or intellectually better, 
or was their country and its rulers richer or happier ? 
They had won the title of invincible ; and glory, mili- 
tary renown, was theirs. But what is glory ? Who of 
all that lay down weary and wounded that night, could 
have defined the advantages of glory ? And another 
class — those over whom the wolves and eagles were bat- 
tening — how were they enriched by glory ? But when 
we turn from them to the scenes we have been attempt- 
ing to describe — when we hear the wailings of the wi- 
dowed mother, the groans of the mangled, the shrieks of 
injured innocence, and the shouts of unbridled passion, — - 
then comes a solemn whisper, Is this glory ? A field 
after battle is dreadful ,* where death arbitrates between 
man and man, and unites foes in silent harmony. But 
war — its advantages and glories — must be learned at 
the soldier's home. 





The following, which we find in the Southern Patriot, will be 
recognized by its excellence as the work of no hand unaccustomed 
to the chords. It will be sung on the day for which it was written 
from one end of the Union to the other : 

Now while our cups are flowing 

With memories born to bloom, 
And filial hands are throwing 

Their wreaths o'er valor's tomb ; 
While lips exulting shout the praise 

Of heroes of the past, that stood 
Triumphant 'mid old Bunker's blaze, 

And proud in Eutaw's field of blood ; — 
Do not forget the gallant train, 

That lifts your name in Mexic war — 
One cup for Palo Alto drain, 

One mighty cheer for Resaca ! 

For Taylor—-" Rough and Ready," 

True son of truest sires ; — 
For May, who swift and steady, 

Trod down La Vega's jires ; 
For all who in that day of strife, 

Maintain'd in pride the stripes and stars — 
The dead, who won immortal life, 

And they who live for other wars — 
For these, who with their victory, 

New wreaths to grace our laurel bring — 
A health that drains a goblet dry, 

A cheer that makes the welkin ring ! 



Nor, though even now we falter 

With thoughts of those who died, 
And at our festive altar, 

Grow silent in our pride, 
Yet in the heart's most holy deep, 

Fond memory shrine the happy brave, 
Who in the arms of battle sleep 

By Palo's wood and Bravo's wave ; 
Nor in our future deeds forgot, 

Shall silent thought forbear to bring, 
Her tribute to that sacred spot, 

Where Ringgold's gallant soul took wing. 

Fill to our country's glory 

Where'er her flag is borne ; 
Nor, in her failing story, 

Let future ages mourn ! 
Nor let the envious foreign foe, 

Rejoice that faction checks her speed, 
Arrests her in the indignant blow, 

And saddens o'er the avenging deed ! 
Fill high, though from the crystal wave, 

Your cup, and from the grape be mine ; 
The marriage rites, that link the brave 

To fame, will turn each draft to wine. 


Of the early life of May, and even his military career 
previous to the Mexican war, very little is known. He 
is a son of Dr. May of Washington City, in which place 



the colonel was bom. All we know of his youth is, that 
he was active and healthy, but of the precocious feats 
which are generally chronicled of military scions we 
are of him told nothing. During the Seminole war he 
entered the army as lieutenant of the 2d regiment of 
dragoons, and was immediately ordered to Florida. Here 
he passed through some of the most trying scenes of 
that distressing war, and on one occasion, succeeded in 
capturing Philip, an Indian chief. 

It has been reserved for the present war to develope 
the talents of May, and place him in the rank of an ener- 
getic and able officer. In the march from Corpus Christi, 
he performed efficient service, in scouring the country 
with his dragoons, and preparing the road for the main 
army. While Taylor remained at Point Isabel, during 
the bombardment of Fort Brown, May was sent to escort 
Captain W alker in his effort to open a communication 
between the two places. This he performed on the night 
of the 3d of May, but not being able to effect a re-junc- 
tion with Walker, he returned toward Point Isabel, 
galloping round the army of the enemy, by way of re- 

About twelve miles from the American position, he 
was opposed by more than one hundred lancers, whom 
he charged, broke, and drove three miles. His horses 
were so worn down by long exposure that he found it 
impossible to keep up with the enemy, or he might have 
completed his victory by the capture of many. Fearing 
therefore that his useless labor might only terminate in 
his being surprised, he returned to Point Isabel. 

At Palo Alto, the nature of the movements in both 



armies deprived May of any opportunity to signalize 
himself. Just before the fall of Ringgold, he was or- 
dered to advance his squadron for the purpose of divert- 
ing the heavy fire of the enemy from the American 
infantry, and, if posssible, to charge the Mexican cavalry. 
The enemy were in such force, however, that the latter 
operation was impracticable ; and during the remainder 
of the day, May remained but a passive spectator. 

When the obstinate resistance of the enemy at Resaca 
de la Palina, made it evident that a charge must be made, 
before the victory would be complete, General Taylor 
ordered May to capture the Mexican batteries. This 
was the opportunity which that brave officer had been 
anxiously loooking for, and riding to the front of his 
horsemen, he called out to them to follow. The next 
moment they were sweeping toward the enemy. Before 
being perceived by them, May was stopped by Lieuten- 
ant-colonel Ridgeley, who was just on the point of firing, 
in order to draw the shot of the enemy. When this was 
done, May again dashed forward, and in a few minutes, 
was by the muzzles of the cannon. Suddenly, a tre- 
mendous discharge poured forth along the ranks of 
the intrepid horsemen, and horses and men rolled 
headlong on the ground. But nothing could stop the 
survivors. They leaped over the cannon, and drove 
the artillerists from their positions, at the point of the 
sword. The fiercest struggle of that day, was the re- 
sistance to this charge. The Mexican batteries were 
defended by the celebrated regiment of Tampico Vete- 
rans, who were regarded as invincible. They threw 
themselves furiously between their guns, and with tL 



swords and bayonets, fought hand to hand with the cav- 
alry. One by one they sunk beneath the weapons of 
their adversaries, and even when their regiment was 
broken and crushed, one of them endeavored to sustain its 
honor by wrapping its flag about him in order to bear it 
away. Had their last discharge been aimed a little lower, 
they would have swept the entire command of Colonel 

In this charge, General la Vega was captured, and 
safely conveyed to the American camp. The distin- 
guished prisoner received much attention from both 
officers and men, and when subsequently conducted 
through different parts of our country, he was every 
where treated as a gallant soldier and a gentleman. 
When captured, he was in the act of applying an ignited 
match to one of the pieces ; Captain May charged for- 
ward and commanded him to surrender. The general 
asked, " Are you an officer V and being answered in the 
affirmative, he delivered his sword, with the remark : 
" General la Vega is a prisoner." 

After the battle May's troops were pushed forward 
in pursuit of the Mexicans, and succeeded in capturing 
many prisoners. 

This has been the most brilliant military feat in the 
career of Colonel May. He was at Monterey, and was 
serviceable in reconnoitering the positions of the enemy, 
and keeping in check their dragoon parties. He re- 
mained with Taylor, after the reduction of his army by 
order of General Scott, and at Buena Vista he supported 
Shaw's artillery during a charge of the Mexicans, and 
covered by turns, almost every battery on the field. His 



dragoons are the most excellently disciplined of any in 
the army. 

May's personal appearance is somewhat whimsical. 
His hair reaches down to his shoulders, and his beard is 
of equal length, so that when riding at the head of his 
command, his hair is the most conspicuous object about 
his person. He is tall in stature, of powerful frame, and 
his charges are irresistible. In battle, he is perfectly 
cool, and his only fault appears to be, that his bravery 
too often approaches to recklessness. This is a national 
censure upon almost all the officers of the present war, 
and presents a spectacle unknown to European warfare. 

Colonel May has lately visited different sections of the 
United States, and was every where received with the 
honor and enthusiasm due his distinguished merit. 



He died, as brave men still should die. 
A soldier's calmness in his eye : 
He breathed the Patriot's latest vow. 
With Victory s laurel on his brow. 

A grateful country mourns his fall, 
"Who. foremost stood at Honor's call. 
Upheld her cause, in battle's strife. 
And for her glory, perilled life. 



His word was onward : on the day 
When warriors met in stern array. 
And brave men followed, where he led, 
Secure in valor's path to tread. 

Wo to the direst of his foes, 
Who dared the hero's arm oppose, 
Where mid the thickest of the fight, 
His sabre flash'd its deadly light ! 

But Death still " loves a shining mark," 
And mid the din of conflict, hark ! 
The cannon deals the mighty blow 
That lays the dauntless soldier low ! 

He fell !— but the fair hand of Fame, 
On her high altar graved his name, 
And Liberty's bright genius, wept. 
Above the bier, where Ringgold slept ! 


Mexico is full of objects calculated to inspire serious 
speculation in the contemplative mind. Her future, it is 
true, is dark and repulsive ; but the past abounds with 
lessons worthy the study of every nation. An acquaint- 
ance with the history of Aztec as it was at the invasion 
of Cortez, compared with a view of her condition subse- 
quent to that period, must convince every one, of the 
humbling truth, that she has gained nothing from Eu- 



rope an civilization. It is true that under the native 
kings, the subjection of the people was perfect ; and their 
religious, and even festive rites, were bloody and revolt- 
ing. But were not the people happier, more intelligent, 
and more refined under the Montezumas, than they have 
ever been since the conquest ? And was the amount of 
suffering entailed by their religion, equal to that perpe- 
trated through anarchy, misrule, civil war, and ecclesi- 
astical bigotry ? Has not the curse of the Aztecan, his 
last sad throb for his country, fallen on it like that of the 
Moor on Spain, and withered the energies of the conquer- 

The fact is, the hue and cry of liberty, and the rights 
of man, and freedom from crowned power, is the most ab- 
surd delusion that ever misled a nation, when the people are 
destitute of the qualifications necessary to support their 
nationality. Remove the intellectual slave from bodily 
degradation, give him a government the best that ever 
existed or can exist, and surround him with every thing 
that man calls desirable, leaving the mind untouched, 
and he will be a slave still. Place the Mexican under 
Montezuma, stopping his ears to the din of freedom, and 
he will be exactly what the Indian is now. Let Mexico 
be under what government she may, it never will, never 
can deliver her from wretchedness and frequent insur- 
rection, until an influence higher than corporeal action 
begins its work upon her. He is mistaken who supposes 
liberty to be merely an exemption from hereditary gov- 
ernors and military oppression, and that to obtain it, the 
only requisition is a successful revolution. It is more- 
it is a study, that demands for its mastery the laborious 



training of a patient and well-balanced mind. The he- 
roes of the American revolution were no enthusiasts — no 
Phaetons madly dashing down the political horizon to de- 
struction. Even when the storm had subsided, and peace 
revisited their plains, they felt that they had but cleared 
the threshold to the sacred shrine — had they remained 
there, where would have been American liberty ? 

Perhaps the most interesting objects in Mexico are 
the extensive ruins scattered more or less throughout the 
whole country. Until very lately these have received 
but little attention from travellers, and consequently our 
knowledge of them is at present but imperfect. While 
the pyramids of Egypt and the antiquities of Greece and 
Asia have been described and delineated, from histories 
to school geographies, the immense palaces of an un- 
known world are left to moulder in silent darkness, unno- 
ticed and unknown. Once in many years, a solitary 
Stephens breaks in upon their solitudes, and "writes a 
book " of " all he saw ; " but a few years, and the de- 
scription shares the fate of its prototype, and American 
antiquities again become a solecism. 

By moonlight one of these ruined cities is an impres- 
sive spectacle. Then the gaps and irregularities caused 
by time are invisible, and the long rows of massive stone 
buildings, heavy with the richest architecture, environed 
and surmounted by trees of two hundred years' growth, 
all apparently fresh from the tool of the architect, burst 
upon the astonished traveller like the regions of Arabian 
genii. Few have ever gazed upon them, under these cir- 
cumstances, without involuntarily bending forward to 
view the inhabitants. But they — the ones for whose 



revels these piles were built — where are they ? Egypt, 
great as is her antiquity, can define the race that erected 
her wonders ; but no memorial — written or traditional — 
may ever tell of the builders of Aztec. Ages after ages, 
her cities have mouldered in the forest, while the crowds 
who once thronged their streets are mingled together in 
undistinguishable dust. While man was battling with 
man in other worlds, an unknown race were doing the 
same here : and the busy hammer, the plying oar, and 
wild song of the hunter, echoed here, as they did in Africa 
or Asia. How the mind strains and wrestles for but one 
glimpse of these scenes ! but 

s: Oblivion laughs, and says, The prey is mine." 

The bloody tale of tragedy, or the softer one of a princess's 
love, breathed forth under the waving woods of Aztec, 
had no historian to transmit them to the future. 

Before the stripping of churches by the different revo- 
lutionary parties, the stranger was surprised by a view 
of the immense wealth of the city of Mexico. Most of 
the ornaments in the cathedrals, and in the houses of the 
rich, were of solid silver, while immense quantities of 
that metal, as well as of gold, formed personal ornaments 
of the ladies and grandees. Yet great as was the amount 
of these precious substances, it was a mere trifle com- 
pared to their abundance in the days of Montezuma. 
The death of this monarch and subversion of his empire, 
form one of those events in history, on which the mind 
dwells with a painful, indefinite sensation. The fancied 
child of the sun, nations rose and fell at his nod, and the 
wealth of his treasures would have bought a continent. 



The mind dwells on his splendor as on a fairytale. The 
very materials of his palaces were silver ; and with the 
gardens and other appendages, covered space enough for 
a large city. The utmost order reigned in his vast do- 
minions, and capital crimes were almost unknown. 

In contemplating the palaces of the city, one can al- 
most fancy that he beholds their illustrious inmate, re- 
posing in solitary majesty during the heat of a noonday 
sun. Perhaps he is seated at dinner— how still and awe- 
like is the room ! Those few nobles standing together 
scarcely seem to breathe ; and the antechamber, though 
filled with grandees and royal 1 guards, is quiet as the 
grave. Four young girls wait upon him — the dark-eyed 
favorites from his seraglio — but their tread is muffled, 
and their lips sealed. Men are crouching before a fellow 
man, as before Deity itself. Now evening arrives, and 
he issues forth to enjoy recreation, or to amuse himself 
with the objects of his whimsical fancy — the maimed and 
monstrous. A group of these are brought before him ; 
some with but one arm, some with four, one without ears, 
others with four thumbs, and among these the monarch 
unbends from royalty, and sports and smiles as an infant. 

These were scenes of pleasure or recreation ; but when 
national interests were at stake — when a great crime had 
been perpetrated, or the nation invaded, then Montezuma 
was again a monarch. The people crowded under his 
banners, and his presence was sufficient to inspire them 
with the wildest enthusiasm. In the darkest, hurryings 
of battle, the name of Montezuma drove them on to the 
most desperate undertakings. The system of government 
was complete. The people were oppressed, it is true, and 



the king was the oppressor. But mutual confidence was 
unshaken, and none desired nor thought of a change of 
condition. * 

The empire of New Spain was founded in blood — not 
the blood of true patriots resisting foreign oppression, but 
of a harmless invaded people, who were either murdered 
or torn from their ancestral homes to perish among the 
mines and high-roads of their taskmasters. But they did 
not yield without a struggle, and but for the superior 
weapons of their adversaries, they would have swept the 
Spaniards from the country. On the memorable night 
denominated by Cortez Noche Tristi (desolate night), they 
poured in determined thousands upon the little band of 
adventurers, who in vain endeavored to resist the onset. 
Man after man was captured by them, until Cortez and 
his few remaining followers fled from the city. Then 
deeds, horrible beyond description, were enacted by the 
infuriated multitude. Revenge loosened her bloody 
hand, and descended upon the prisoners. Maddened by 
their former losses, the populace rushed upon them, tore 
the heart from the bosom, and, while yet quivering with 
pulsation, threw it with dreadful shouts at the feet of 
their idol. Then the heads were wrenched from the 
shoulders, and used as balls by the people, while the 
bodies were precipitated to the rocks below. Fear, for 
the first time, brooded over the desolate Spaniards, and 
they wept like children for home. 

The political history of Mexico since the emancipa- 
tion from the mother- country, is a sad jumble of mur- 
ders, robberies, and revolutions. It is not wonderful that 
anarchy has struck its baneful roots far into her soil ; but 



that, as one government, she has existed at all. The 
rulers have rioted in spoil and carnage, while the people 
have been robbed of almost every thing worth possessing. 
The churches have shared a similar fate, and even the 
cloak of the prelate has often been no defence from the 
stiletto of the bandit. All confidence or credit is lost, 
and, politically considered, the inhabitants are no longer a 

Still, notwithstanding all these disadvantages, Mexico, 
under an efficient leader, might become a powerful nation. 
Her sons have proven their courage in the present war 
with the United States, and were there but a Xantippus 
to organize them, or a Hannibal to lead them, they might 
give us as much trouble as Carthage gave to Rome. No 
country affords better resources for either offensive or 
defensive warfare. A handful of brave men, thrown 
among the passes of their mountains, could repel the 
united efforts of any army ; and how well her plains are 
adapted to cut up a large force, and thus overcome the 
advantages of numbers, the battle of Buena Vista is am- 
ple testimony. We must look then upon this country 
as possessing the most abundant resources, and yet una- 
ble to use them ; as possessing the elements of a mighty 
nation, and yet unable to combine or modify them ; in 
fine, as a nonentity on the national chronicle, open to the 
insult and abuse of every enemy, whether domestic or 

During the trying scenes of the republic, much of the 
original Spanish character has been lost. They are still 
vain, cruel, and revengeful, like their trans- atl antic 
brethren ; but the stately demeanor, reserved courtesy, 



and pride of ancestry, are in a great measure gone ; a 
circumstance, to which -the abolition of grades of rank 
has mainly contributed. This renders the people much 
more talkative and agreeable than the Spaniards, and 
perhaps less hidden in their principles. The loquacious 
traveller is sure to set in action a responsive train, and 
in less than five minutes the groups of half naked men, 
women and children, that have ranged themselves around 
him, with open ears and mouths, make him feel, if not in 
his native country, at least " at home J 5 But, on the other 
hand, the change of manners is undoubtedly unfavorable 
to modesty and decorum. The pleasing timidity, so 
graceful in the female sex, is unknown to Mexico ; and 
the countenances of the handsomest women betray a 
tinge of coarse vulgarity, or perhaps familiarity, repel- 
ling to a foreigner. Beside this, their dress is scant and 
slovenly, their feet bare, and their whole appearance 
strongly impresses the beholder as a personification of 
laziness and immodesty. Groups of both sexes are of- 
ten seen rolling over the same floor, many of them stran- 
gers to each other— Indians, negroes, rancheros, and sol- 
diers. The children are never clothed until they arrive 
at the age of nine or ten years, and many of the boys 
are allowed to go two or three years beyond that period. 

The eyes of all nations are now bent upon this 
country, with intense interest ; for her future prospects 
are wrapped in an impenetrable obscurity. Should she 
continue in a state of war, her very nationality may be 
taken from her, and the manes of Montezuma terribly 
avenged ; and let peace accrue sooner or later, it must 
deprive her of some of the richest of her territories. 

RE SAC A D £ LA P A L M A . 


She has declined European mediation, and would per- 
haps treat with the same contempt similar offers from an 
American power. Yet every day is depriving her of 
new possessions, and every battle of her bravest defend- 
ers. Her commerce is ruined, her fields devastated, her 
cities captured, and her capital threatened by a victori- 
ous army. Who may tell her fate, define her future 
boundaries, or compute her chances of national existence ? 
Will she spring aloft from the destroyer, happier and 
wiser from experience, and renovate her manners and 
government ? or will her sad people collect in groups 
upon every sierra, and weep over the triumph of their 
enemy ? In fine, shall the nation of which so much has 
been anticipated, still exist as a nation, or must she re- 
move from her high position, lower the flag of her inde- 
pendence, and remain only as a mournful example that 
del'verance from foreign control can never render a peo- 
ple wise or powerful, unless they have among them the 
elements of self-government ? 


Come and listen, while I tell of the battle that befel 

On the frontiers of our coiuitry, one pleasant mom in May : 

When the Mexicans came forth o'er the River of the North." 
Filled with hopes of easy conquest, filled with ardor for the 



We had marched, with measured tramp, from our sadly fur- 
nished camp, 

Through a wild and broken country to our Fort at Isabel ; 
For our food was failing fast, and our powder would not last, 
And, to silence Matamoras, were in want of shot and shell. 

Having loaded our supplies, word was brought us by our spies, 
That the Mexicans were waiting us, with twice three thou- 
sand men ; 

So we knew we had to fight, but we heard it with delight, 
Though we numbered with the enemy as scarcely four to ten. 

Soon we came to where they stood, flanked by water and by 

And their cannon swept the road — but we saw it undismayed ; 
Though our General, at the best, was indifferently dressed, 
In a dingy green frock-coat and in pants of cottonade. 

And a broken old straw hat ; but we did not care for that — 
For calm resolve was on his brow and fire within his eye, 

As he turned to Captain May, and we heard him coldly say, 
" Yonder cannon must be ours ; you must take them, sir, 
or die !" 

Quickly then he to us rode, while his heart with daring glowed — 
The high heroic heart of the gallant Captain May — 

And we saw his beard and hair, streaming back upon the air, 
As, passing on, he shouted — " Charge !" and boldly led the 

Oh ! they heard us from afar, ringing out our wild hurrah, 
And they looked on one another, and their swarthy cheeks 
were pale ; 



For they felt that, if we came, though they vomited out flame, 
Nor cannon balls, nor musketry, nor courage could avail. 

First, we broke into a trot, till we felt the foemen's shot, 

Then, like resistless torrent, or a storm-wind in its wrath. 
Onward, onward we went dashing — o'er the breastwork we 
went crashing, 

And, through and through the Mexicans, we cut our bloody 

Hand to hand, with the brand, wherever they would stand, 
We cut, and we thrust, and we galloped to and fro — 

Till they scattered were pell-mell, like the bursting of a shell, 
And we thought it all unmanly to strike a flying foe. 

Honor to "Rough and Ready," with his mien so calm and 

And honor to brave Captain May, and honor to the slain — 
Worthy subject of old Runes were the onslaught of dragoons, 
Who fought the fight, and won the fight, upon our Texian 
plain ! 


William J. Worth was born in the state of New 
York, and when a boy, was engaged in a store in Alba- 
ny. When quite young, the disputes between France 
and England seemed likely to draw our country into a 
war with one of the great powers ; and when these fears 
were realized, Worth was one of the first to apply for a 


commission in the army. His request was granted, and 
he received the appointment of 1st lieutenant in the 23d 
infantry, on the 19th of March, 1813. 

In the battle of Chippewa plains, Worth acted as aid 
to General Scott, and when the nature of that officer's 
duties are remembered, it will be acknowledged that this 
was a dangerous and responsible station. Yet he won 
the admiration of his superior by his excellent conduct, 
and was noticed by General Brown in complimentary 
terms. He was further rewarded by a commission as 
captain, dated August 19th. 1814. 

In the sanguinary battle of Niagara, "Worth had a fur- 
ther opportunity of proving his military talents. In order 
to appreciate his services, it will be necessary to remember 
that General Scott performed most of the active services 
of that battle ; and his aids were required to be in every 
part of the field, often between the fires of both armies. 
Worth's escape from death seems almost miraculous, 
though with most of the commanding officers, including 
Brown and Scott, he was severely wounded. For some 
time after the capture of the enemy's battery by Colonel 
Miller, the two armies were within a few yards of each 
other, and some of the officers for a short time even com- 
manded sections of their antagonists. When evening 
arrived, both armies were so completely satiated with 
slaughter, as to be unable to make further effort. 

Captain Worth was rewarded for his bravery in this 
action, by the thanks of his superior officers, and the rank 
of major. Although he performed good service during 
the remainder of the war. yet he had no opportunity of 
distinguishing himself. At its close he was honored by 


an appointment to superintend the West Point Academy, 
in which responsible station he won the esteem and confi- 
dence of all concerned. He was brevetted lieutenant- 
colonel on the 25th of July, 1824 ; appointed major of 
ordnance, in 1832, and colonel of the 8th infantry regi- 
ment, July 7th, 1838. 

In Florida, Colonel Worth was enabled to act a rather 
more conspicuous part, than most of the officers in that 
unfortunate war. The precison that characterizes all 
his movements was of the utmost service during the 
campaigns of 1841 and 42, when he compelled several 
parties of the Indians to surrender. He was brevetted 
brigadier-general on the 1st of March, 1842. On the 
19th of April, he fought the battle of Palaklaklaha, in 
which a large body of Seminoles were entirely defeated, 
and several of their chieftains subsequently obliged to 

When General Taylor marched from Corpus Christi 
to make war upon Mexico, Worth was the second in 
command, and led the main army to the Rio Grande, 
while the commander moved towards Point Isabel. 
Worth planted the flag of his country on the Rio Grande, 
with his own hand. Soon after, Colonel Twiggs arrived, 
and claimed the command of Worth's division, on account 
jf priority of commission. His claim being substanti- 
ated by the proper documents, Taylor was obliged to 
confirm it, and Worth, considering himself aggrieved, 
left the army, reached Washington, and tendered his re- 
signation. In doing so, however, he displayed all the 
delicacy and reluctance which such a step was calcu- 
lated to inspire, and expressed his hope that should actual 



hostilities take place he might be permitted to resume the 
command, and declared his entire approbation of the con- 
duct of the commanding general. While at Washington, 
the aspect at the seat of war changed. News arrived 
of the danger of Taylor at Fort Brown, and soon after 
of the march to Point Isabel, and the battles of the 8th 
and 9th of May. Worth immediately applied for his 
commission ; it was granted, and he hurried on to Texas. 
He was received by General Taylor with open arms ; 
and conducted the negotiations attending the capitulation 
of Matamoras. 

But another and nobler field was now offered to him 
at Monterey. General Taylor, with the generosity of a 
true soldier, intrusted him with the attack upon the Bi- 
shop's palace ; an almost impregnable fortress, com- 
manding a steep and rocky height, and the key of the 
road to the interior. This was considered by the whole 
army as an almost desperate undertaking, and none who 
saw the division of the general march from camp toward 
the palace, expected to see half of them return. The 
peculiar situation of Worth favored this belief ; as it was 
supposed that, in order to atone for his lost opportunities, 
and stop the voice of calumny, he would rush headlong 
into danger, and recover his reputation at every hazard. 
Worth acted differently. He felt his duty to the sol- 
diers, and allowed no personal feeling to hinder its exe- 
cution. Where the Americans expected the heaviest 
loss, and perhaps total failure, they were scarcely in- 
jured. During the whole time, the troops labored in 
range of the enemy's guns, crossing ravines, climbing 
rocks and ledges, wading through water, and carrying 



their camion up precipitous cliffs. Worth was all the 
time on horseback, riding from post to post, and using 
every effort to cheer his men in their laborious duties. 
His conduct is mentioned by the commander in terms of 
the warmest approbation. 

Worth was one of the commissioners at the negotia- 
tions for the capitulation, and performed efficient service 
during the evacuation of the city. He was subsequently 
detached to Saltillo. where he remained until January, 
at which time he marched for the Gulf coast to join 
General Scott. 

At Vera Cruz. General Worth was the first officer 
that formed his troops in line after tfierr landing. His 
services in the siege were valuable : and he was the 
head of the American deputation to arrange the terms 
of capitulation. When the Mexicans had left the city, 
Worth was appointed governor, and occupied it with his 
brigade. His prompt and exact measures soon resusci- 
tated the trade and commerce of the city, and repressed 
the disorders which had long disgraced it. 

On the same day that the battle of Sierra Gordo was 
fought. Worth took unresisted possession of the town and 
fortress of Perote, in which were found immense stores 
of ammunition, cannon, mortars, and small arms. This 
is one of the strongest castles in Mexico. Here he re- 
mained for some time, principally engaged in perfecting 
the discipline of his army. The movements of Santa 
Anna called him from his retirement, and after the bat- 
tle of Sierra Gordo he was very active in cutting off 
supplies from the Mexican camp. Early in May he 
advanced toward Puebla, and on the 14th he was met by 




Santa Anna with a detachment of about three thousand 
men. most of them cavalry. A skirmish ensued, several 
Mexicans were unhorsed, and the whole force returned 
to the city. The next morning, before daylight. Santa 
Anna left for the interior, and at 10 o'clock the Ameri- 
cans obtained quiet possession. The city of Puebla is 
well built, ornamented with numerous public buildings, 
and contains eighty thousand inhabitants. 

This has proved the last military achievement of 
General Worth. The same inaction which a paucity of 
troops imposes on all the other officers of the Mexican 
war, is shared by him ; and until this is obviated, we 
have little reason to suppose that we will have occasion 
to crown him with fresh laurels. 

General Worth possesses a tall, commanding figure 3 
a full front, and is said to be the best horseman, and 
handsomest man iti the army. In discipline he is very 
rigid, but is a universal favorite with the soldiers, by 
whom his appearance is always cheered. His great at- 
tachment to General Taylor has been the subject of fre- 
quent remark: and when the commander was called to 
part with so many of his officers, prior to the battle of 
Buena Vista, with no one was he more loth to pail than 
with Worth. The General never appears with his 
troops except on horseback, and he seems perfectly con- 
scious of his skill in riding. On such occasions he forms 
a most singular contrast to his brother officer, who is one 
of the most awkward equestrians in Mexico. 

Worth possesses fine talents other than military. He 
seems to be one of those who are born to distinguish 
themselves in any occupation into which fortune may 



throw them. He is a firm friend, an agreeable compan- 
ion, and possesses a sort of chivalric frankness and kind- 
ness of heart, which, notwithstanding his strict discipline, 
endear him to the whole army. 


Few w T ho saw General Worth march toward the 
Bishop's Palace, on the morning of the 20th, ever expect- 
ed to see him return. He had missed Palo Alto and 
Resaca Palma ; and his feelings were known to be sad 
and chafed at the late unfortunate differences between 
himself and government. It was well understood that 
General Taylor had given him the responsibility of a 
separate command mainly out of delicacy to his misfor- 
tunes ; and all supposed that he would establish his 
reputation as a general, by pushing forward, through 
uproar, confusion, and death, to the cannon's mouth. As 
the brave fellows filed by their comrades, many a pity- 
ing glance was cast upon them, and many a brave heart 
ached as it sighed forth an involuntary farewell. The 
General was silent. He appreciated the magnanimity 
of his brother veteran, and burned to prove that it was not 
misplaced ; but no doubt thoughts were then crowding 
upon his mind which were never permitted to pass the 
lips, and he knew and felt that something dearer than 
life was resting upon the possibility of capturing a seem- 
ingly impregnable fortress. 


The division marched to a hill, and passed the night 
almost within range of the Palace guns. Long before 
daylight the rolling of drums and the loud shouting of 
the sentinels roused the soldiers to arms, and they soon 
recommenced their toilsome march. After winding in 
silence up the steep ascent, they arrived at a ridge, dimly 
seen through the twilight, projecting over their heads. 
They turned it, and directly in front were the muzzles 
of the enemy, frowning with seeming impatience upon 
them. But it was too late to pause. On they went, 
sweeping up the rocky path, their artillery echoing from 
hill to hill, as the horses galloped over the hard ledge. 
Suddenly the enemy burst forth, and ere the thundering 
discharge had rolled away in the distance, storms of iron 
hail came battering over the rocks, and scattering broken 
bushes and flinty stones in all directions. Still the troops 
bore on, winding along a deep gorge, till they reached 
another ridge about three-quarters of a mile from the 
first, and under the summit of a high hill. Upon reach- 
ing this, they beheld in advance a body of cavalry, splen- 
didly mounted and caparisoned, with their lances spark- 
ling in the early sunbeams, and preparing for a charge. 
Immediately Captain Gillespie galloped along the flank 
of his Texan rangers, ordering them to dismount and 
place themselves in ambush. They obeyed, and the 
next moment the enemy swept within a few yards of 
them. All at once the rangers poured forth their fire, 
and man and horse plunged headlong over the rocks. 
McCullock's troops now dashed into their broken ranks, 
and closely following came the 8th infantry, led by the 
gallant Longstreet. The enemy fought furiously, and 



hand to hand the fierce cavalry charged each other, roll- 
ing backward and forward upon the rocky height. 

Meanwhile Colonel Duncan had been preparing his 
battery, and soon its heavy discharges, and the rushing 
of the terrified horses, announced that the conflict was 
about to terminate. The enemy fled up the hill, in wild 
confusion, followed by the infantry of the Americans, 
who, as they moved, fired vollies of musketry at their 
foe. The Mexicans lost thirty men killed ; among them 
a captain, who fell under three wounds, while fighting 
with the most determined bravery. 

About noon, Captain C. F. Smith, with two com- 
panies of the artillery battalion and four of Texan 
rangers, was ordered to storm the second height. The 
undertaking was a fearful one. Five hundred yards 
intervened between them and the foot of the hill, their 
way lying over perpendicular rocks, heaps of loosened 
stones, and thorn bushes ; while on every peak and 
thicket above were glittering rows of Mexican infantry, 
prepared to pour upon them showers of musket balls. 
The party, however, did not for one moment dream of 
danger. Under their gallant leader, they were prepared 
for any service and any danger ; and after the command 
to march was given, they were soon out of sight, behind 
a ridge of rocks. Their companions watched, with beat- 
ing hearts, for their re-appearance ; till at length, fearful 
for their safety, Captain Miles with the 7th infantry, was 
detached to their support. Instead of taking the same 
route as the first party, they moved rapidly toward the 
hill in the very breast of the redoubt, until they arrived 
at the shores of the San Juan, which winds along a 



ledge. They paused a moment ; and the next were 
wading across the swift current, which was plunging 
and foaming with the showers of balls that incessantly 
ploughed its surface. They landed, marched to the 
hill, and detached Lieutenant Gantt, to arrest the atten- 
tion of the enemy, and if possible discover Captain 
Smith's party. They pushed up the hill, while shells 
and round shot flew in all directions, tearing up the 
shrubs and stones, and filling the air with showers of 
dust and gravel ; and overhead, the sharp crack of 
musketry, echoing from cliff to cliff, announced that the 
infantry were not idle. Suddenly, the quivering bayo- 
nets of the first party glittering in the sunbeams, broke 
upon their sight. They arrived, rushed up the hill, and 
the next moment were sweeping the Mexicans from the 

The enthusiasm of the troops now became irresisti- 
ble. Company after company marched up the rocky 
ascent, cheering and shouting until their voices arose 
above the roar of cannon, and confusion of battle. The 
Mexicans, unable to resist the fierce shock, deserted 
their works, and fled, to the number of a thousand, down 
the steep ascent towards their second fort. As they 
passed the rear gate, the Americans entered in front ; 
and in a moment the national flag was playing in grace- 
ful folds over the breastworks, while the guns found in 
the fort commenced thundering away at the Bishop's 

Thus was this important post taken, almost without 
loss on the part of the Americans ; but it was only 
the commencement of the drama — the Palace was still 



before the soldiers, with its massive frowning walls that 
seemed to bid haughty defiance to the utmost effort of 
any army. Rows of cannon and files of musketry 
bristled along its ramparts, and its very height was fear- 
ful to look upon. Yet the man who led the assailants 
was not to be deterred by difficulty. He had determined 
to accomplish, what he had marched for— to take the 

At 3 o ? clock on the morning of the 21st, Colone 
Childs left the camp, with three companies, on his way 
to the palace. Their road lay over steep rocks, covered 
with loose fragments, or hedges of chapparal. They 
marched rapidly, but with muffled tread, until at day- 
break they found themselves within one hundred yards 
of a Mexican breastwork of sand-bags. Here, being 
discovered, they paused to await reinforcements. Three 
privates, however, had advanced ahead of their com- 
rades, and were surprised by a party of Mexicans, to 
whom they surrendered. They were shot with their 
own muskets. Major Scott and Colonel Stamford now 
advanced to the support of Childs, toiling up the steep 
ascent, and obliged to carry a heavy howitzer upon their 
shoulders. When these reached the summit, the loud 
bursts of the howitzer, and the renewed firing of the 
palace, announced that the conflict had begun in earnest. 
All at once the Mexican force collected, and poured to- 
ward the howitzer in full gallop. The brave Rowland 
saw them coming, and prepared for the encounter. An- 
other leap, and their horses would almost have touched 
the Americans, when a loud burst rang upon the air, 
and the dense mass rolled backward as though struck by 


an earthquake. Then followed a peal of musketry, and 
the broken cavalry lied in terror from the unequal con- 
test. In a little while the Americans followed them, 
rushed upon the palace, and entered it by a small aper- 
ture in the wall. The Mexicans were soon driven from 
the works, the guns secured, the star-spangled banner 
hoisted, and the Bishop's palace was our own. 

On the 23d. General Worth entered Monterey with 
his whole division, and was soon involved in the stirring 
events attending its assault. As he rode from post to 
post, amid the shots that were flying thick and fast around 
him. his line form seemed to grow with the danger, and 
the sadness of a previous day was entirely absorbed in 
the excitement of action and flush of victory. Here he 
remained in the very heart of the city, until news reached 
him that terms of capitulation were about to be offered, 
when he ceased all further operations. 

Xo event in the life of General Worth has ever added 
more to his reputation as a general than this fine assault. 
It was conducted under peculiar circumstances — those 
which in some measure would have excused or palliated 
rashness. But he forgot self. The safety of his men 
was more dear to him than his personal fame : and with 
a feeling allied to that of the martyr, he determined to 
perform nothing but his duty, totally regardless of con- 
sequences. His disinterestedness was rewarded : and 
the post where ail thought that slaughter would be wild- 
est, was scarcely stained with American blood. How 
gratifying must have been the feelings of the general,, as 
he reflected on the magnitude of his services, his little 
loss, and complete success ! 



We were not many — we who stood 
Before the iron sleet that day — 
Yet many a gallant spirit would 
Give half his years if he but could 
Have been with us at Monterey. 

Xow here,, now there, the shot, it hailed 

In deadly drifts of fiery spray. 

Yet not a single soldier quailed 

When wounded comrades round them wailed 

Their dying shout at Monterey. 

And on. still on. our column kept. 
Through walls of flame its withering way ; 
W Tiere fell the dead, the living stept, 
Still charging on the guns that swept 
The slippery streets of Monterey. 

The foe himself recoiled aghast 
When, striking where he strongest lav. 
We swooped his flanking batteries fast. 
And braving full their murderous blast. 
Stormed home the towers of Monterev. 

Our banners on those turrets wave. 
And there our evening bugles play : 
W mere orange boughs above their grave 
Keep green the memory of the brave 
Who fought and fell at Monterey. 




We are not many — we who press'd 
Beside the brave who fell that day ; 
But who of us has not confessed 
He'd rather share their warrior rest. 
Than not have been at Monterey ? 



In order to obtain a correct idea of the fierce assault 
on Monterey, we must withdraw ourselves from the pomp 
and formality attending the operations of the main armies, 
and follow individual companies, as they advance to the 
attack. Of these none were more conspicuous that that 
led by the gallant Colonel Wilson, who marched through 
the city during the hottest part of the conflict. 

On the night of the 20th of September, his troops lay 
on their arms, and arose early in the morning, wet with 
heavy rains, and exhausted by fatigue and fasting. In 
this condition they advanced to the attack. Directly 
across their road was a field of corn, and as the men 
passed between the bending stalks, they knew not but 
that at each step they would hear the burst of the 
enemy's cannon, or a roar of musketry from thousands 
of concealed riflemen. For an hour they toiled through 
weeds and brambles, until emerging from the field, each 
soldier involuntarily started to see before him a huge 
battery frowning with artillery, and lined with thousands 



of infantry. Its guns opened at once, and the blood of 
the youthful volunteers rushed thrilling through their 
veins, as they heard the whistling of balls, and felt that, 
for the first time, they were standing in the march of 
death. All was confusion and uncertainty, some w r ere 
advancing to assault the redoubt, others were marching 
a different way to the city. Suddenly a single horseman 
swept across the field, and with a voice that arose above 
the peals of artillery, called the assailants from their line. 
It was Colonel Watson. He dismounted, and the next 
moment his noble steed reared high in air, and fell dead. 
" Men. shelter yourselves/*'" shouted the colonel, and as 
though by one impulse, each one fell flat upon the 
ground, while around and behind them balls were fall- 
ing like showers of hail. It was a moment of terror. 
The man is brave who can face an opposing army, even 
when he has the hurry of march and resistance to excite 
him ; but to lay inactive while thousands of balls from a 
sheltered foe are ploughing the ground around you, is 
something more than brave. 

In a little while the fire of the enemy slackened ; 
and taking advantage of it, the colonel leaped from the 
ground, and called to his men to follow him. They 
hurried into the city, and entered a lane, apparently 
secure from the artillery. They had advanced a little 
distance, when a roar of cannon, succeeded by another 
and another, awakened them to a knowledge of their 
fearful situation. Three full batteries glared upon them 
from the distance of but one hundred yards, raking the 
street from one end to the other, while two twelve-pound- 
ers, opened upon them from the castle in front, and every 



house, and every wall was bristling with rows of mus- 
ketry. All at once this tremendous train opened. Then 
there was a pause, and as the echo rolled fainter and 
fainter in the distance, it was succeeded by the startling 
tones of command, the shrieks of the wounded, and the 
deep moans of the dying. On the devoted line marched, 
when a second discharge scattered their ranks like a 
whirlwind, and men and horse leaped in the air, and fell 
writhing beneath the hurrying feet of their companions. 
The earth shook under this heavy cannonade, and the 
strong old walls of Monterey toppled as though in an 

Over the space of two hundred yards the soldiers 
were exposed to this awful fire, without the possibility 
of resisting it. At length they halted at a cross street, 
and turned to survey the line of march. It was a sick- 
ening spectacle. Their track was traced with blood ; 
and here and there groups of man and horse, dead and 
w r ounded, told of the points where they had received the 
discharges of artillery. Some were calling piteously to 
their companions, others raving in the agonies of death, 
and their last thrilling appeals, rendered more awful 
than battle itself the interval of death. Then the artillery 
re-commenced, sweeping the whole street, and crossing 
and re-crossing at every corner. Each man fled to a place 
of safety. Some leaped into ditches, others fell flat upon 
the ground, a few concealed themselves behind an old wall, 
and a large number sat down with their backs against the 
houses. On came the iron showers, rattling and crash- 
ing like hail, and sweeping soldier after soldier before it. 
The dead and wounded were lying at every spot. The 



wretch who once fell, had no hope ; ball after ball would 
riddle him, until he was torn to pieces. Now a cannon- 
ball would strike one, and scatter the bleeding fragments 
in every direction : and the next moment another would 
start from his bloody couch, utter a piercing shriek, and 
fall back dead. None that witnessed that terrible scene 
ever expected to escape unhurt. How they did is un- 
accountable. Balls were continually pouring around, 
above and beneath them ; under the arms, through the 
locks and clothing, and falling at their feet after v striking 
the walls above. Thus the troops remained for a quar- 
ter of an hour, and then arose and formed, preparatory 
to making an attack upon the fort. 

In the march, Colonel Watson became separated from 
his men, and soon after joined another column. The 
battle was still raging, but he rode from rank to rank, 
cheering and encouraging his men as calmly as though 
in a parade. Animated by his example, they forgot 
danger and weariness, and pressed on with alacrity. A. 
flush of excitement — proud and patriotic — passed over 
his cheeks, as bending forward, he spurred his steed 
toward the head of the column. A moment after, the 
same steed was coursing wildly through the street, and 
his intrepid rider lay cold in death. He was shot in the 
neck by a musket ball. 

Thus fell the pride and idol of the Baltimore volun- 
teers, no less distinguished for his generosity and good- 
ness of heart, than for his bravery and chivalry. Amid 
the well deserved praises bestowed upon the generals of 
that assault, little mention is made of his brave battalion, 
who with himself enacted so conspicuous a part ; but 




were the complete history of their chivalric struggle on 
that day written, posterity would be proud to award 
them a share of glory not inferior to any corps who were 
battling with them. 


The name of Mexico has long been associated with 
nothing but scenes of bloodshed and misery. Now and 
then, a passing remark is made, on the beauty of her 
scenery, or the splendor of her climate ; but this is soon 
forgotten, or. perhaps, overlooked in the eager appetite 
after the news of battle. But. to the contemplative mind, 
the one that is glad to remove from the sickening din 
where man is spilling the life-blood which may never be 
gathered, Mexico is replete with wonder and instruction. 
Like Spain, she is the country of romantic associations, 
and her history is a tale of mournful interest. 

In the mother-country, the marbled fountains, and 
deep-tangled gardens of the Alhambra. tell of a high- 
spirited and enlightened people, who have passed away 
from the places that will never know them again : and 
in Mexico, the same sad mementoes, the same lonely and 
deserted structures, guard in stately grandeur the tombs 
of a race, better than their conquerors. The once 
haughty Spaniard is now degraded and pusillanimous ; 
wmile the poor Indian, whose empire he wrested in the 
hurry for wealth, although moving as a slave among the 



palaces of his ancestors, is his superior in every thing 
but rank ; and, as the Moors still fondly dream of re- 
capturing their terrestrial Eden, so do the descendants of 
Montezuma ; and, under a skilful leader, who would 
dare affirm that they could not burst their fetters, and 
revel once more in the halls of Aztec ? 

A prospect on one of the plains of Mexico, is a sub- 
lime and subduing sight. Often the ground is as level 
as a floor for many miles, and covered with high grass, 
which waves backward and forward like the undulations 
of the ocean. Far in the distance, high trees vary the 
scene, and farther still the mountains seem to rear their 
round heavy summits into the clouds — and, over all, the 
sun beams with that yellow, mellowed softness, so pecu- 
liar in southern regions. Buffaloes, jackals, and prairie- 
dogs infest the plains, and add a strange, unhiman ap- 
pearance to the landscape. But that which particularly 
arrests the attention of the traveller, and assures him 
that he is far from home, is the innumerable variety of 
birds and insects, glittering with every tinge of beauty, 
and filling the air with their ceaseless humming. No 
country is richer in natural history than Mexico, and 
among her specimens are thousands unknown to other 
portions of the world. 

There are some ruins in Mexico of buildings estab- 
lished by the Spaniards, which are rarely mentioned. — 
Of these are the stations of the Jesuit priests, soon after 
the conquest, which are scattered, in different numbers, 
through every State of the Republic. Several are on 
the Rio del Norte, and were subjects of frequent remark 
among the American soldiers, whenever observed. — 



There is something sad connected with the sight of their 
mouldering domes and battlements, half concealed by 
coarse grass and chapparal. On them the missionaries 
bestowed their wealth and labor, fondly hoping that the 
rude and scattered tribes would flock to them as to a 
home. They adorned the walls with the most expensive 
sculpture, and painted the figure of a weeping virgin — 
their motto in every undertaking — upon the high battle- 
ments which overlooked the inland. Inside were spa- 
cious apartments, adorned with paintings and statues, and 
resounding with the sweet chantings of pious nuns ; 
while surrounding every building were blooming gar- 
dens, traversed by paths and canals, and variegated with 
all that could rivet the attention, or charm the senses. 
Here the preacher erected his cross, and day after day 
taught the wondering Indian of another and better land, 
where the groves were even greener, and the streams 
clearer than in Aztec. Little did they imagine that in 
less than two centuries the descendants of their pupils 
would return to their degraded state, and that the roman- 
tic buildings, which towered like stars in the wilderness, 
and to establish which they had left home and relatives, 
and crossed an unknown ocean, would be mouldering in 
unvisited solitudes, and hear no sound save the batten of 
the jackal and vulture ! 

The most extensive of these settlements on the Rio 
Grande, is the one called St. Joseph's. Its grand court 
is about two hundred yards square, and the principal 
chapel is one hundred and five feet long, and thirty feet 
wide. The wing, containing the cells for the nuns, is 
about one hundred and fifty feet long, by fifty-seven in 



width : the height of the principal dome is eighty feet. 
The court is surrounded by old buildings, sufficient for 
the accommodation of one hundred families, while the 
base of the wings is divided into small cells, built with 
great strength. All the battlements and towers are cov- 
ered with the prickly pear, growing to the height of six 
feet above the walls, and with grass and mosquito wood, 
the common growth of the country, among which the bells 
lay scattered and broken, some in the eourt-yard v and 
others in the cupola. 

The main front of the building, opposite what was 
once the grand entrance, is adorned with a richness of 
statuary and architecture, so far superior to any thing of 
its class among the religious edifices of our country, that 
its strikes an American with awe and admiration. Be- 
sides many marble statues of full size, representing 
Christ, the Saints, and the Virgin, there are also plaster 
images of small dimensions, in an arch round the en- 
trance, illustrating remarkable events in the history of 
Christ and the Apostles, and arranged in groups, each 
of which is surrounded by well preserved wreaths of 
fletir de lis. The entire exterior of these vast buildings, 
as well as the roofs, domes and parapets, have been paint- 
ed in imitation of mosaic work, portions of which are 
not yet defaced. In a small chapel in the basement, 
which is still locked, are three statues, in a standing po- 
sition, well preserved, and under the direct superinten- 
dence of the present keepers of the property. One of 
these represents the Saviour, with his side bleeding, hands 
and feet pierced, and crowned with thorns ; one is the 
Virgin, and the third the representation of some Saint. 



The principal material of these edifices is rock and 
a kind of cement, which in its mouldering condition has 
the appearance of old lava. The sills of the doorways 
and the caps of many of the pillars, are of ponderous di- 
mensions, and like the door-posts are of marble. 

A strong evidence of most extensive labor in the es- 
tablishment of these missions, is to be found in the canals 
which have been dug to irrigate, with the waters of the 
San Antonio river, large tracts of country, extending over 
leagues of land. In some places this plan of irrigation 
seems to indicate that in former years the drought ren- 
dered agriculture and horticulture unavailable without 
much artificial aid, and it proves too, as well as does the 
completion of such vast edifices, that the labor of large 
numbers of the aborigines must have been employed by 
the missionary priests and their associates in the work. 

The dates of the completion of these edifices range 
along from the beginning to the middle of the last cen- 
tury, which makes some of them more and some less 
than one hundred years old ; so that although they are 
not of a very remote antiquity, yet the desolations of fre- 
quent war, and the corrosive nature of the climate, 
together with the rapid growth of wood and vegetation 
peculiar to the soil, gives to them the appearance of very 
ancient ruins. To say the least they are much older in 
appearance than any buildings of the United States, ex- 
cepting, perhaps, the old Spanish cathedral at New Or- 
leans, and the old Scandinavian fort at Newport, R. 1. 

Many of these stations of the interior have been de- 
stroyed by the Indian tribes, or during the long wars 
which have desolated Mexico ; others are completely 



overgrown by rank vegetation : but enough remain to 
attest their former splendor, as well as the labor and zeal 
of the men who could muster courage to leave their own 
country, and found a home for themselves and their fel- 
low men. in the boundless wilderness. 

Besides these Jesuit buildings, there are on the San 
Antonio river ruins of the little town of Goliad, which, 
like Moscow, was fired by the retreating inhabitants, 
when attacked by the revolutionists in the Texan war. 
Unlike the missions, no grass waves above its battle- 
ments : the walls are bare and black, and on the ground 
charred fragments are heaped upon each other in wild 
confusion. The history of the city is a sad one, and as 
the wandering antiquary beholds for the first time its 
relics, he can scarcely realize that it was once the abode 
of song and happiness and merriment. On that dark and 
terrible night when a thrilling voice rolled along its 
sleeping streets, that the avengers icere coming, each 
rushed from his couch, fled to the church, tore the gold 
and silver from the altars, fluncr burning torches among 
the draperies, and departed for ever. All night the flames 
tossed, and foamed, and roared, until the country beneath 
their lurid glare shone as brightly as day ; and when the 
sun arose upon the scene, Goliad was a mass of smoul- 
dering ruins. 

Humorous scenes often take place amoung the Ameri- 
can soldiers in Mexico, who are not accustomed to the 
climate and productions. The greatest enemy they 
have, not even excepting the Mexicans, seems to be mus- 
quitoes, Not the frail, merry little nonentity of the 
north, that lulls us to sleep with his midsummer night's 



song, and around whose feathered head, and web-like 
limbs, even children gather with admiration. No. 
Compared to the southern article, " these are but as 
grasshoppers " At the noise of his trumpet-like coming 
man and beast fly in terror, and the conquerors of Mexico 
relax from their haughty bearing, The diseases of the 
climate, brain fever, miasma, every foe to hygiene, com- 
pared to this vampire, are harmless. During the day, 
while the sun is withering nature, he basks in the ooze 
and bushes of the rivers, gathering strength ; and when 
evening arrives, and men rush from their smothered re- 
treat to enjoy the mountain breeze, he rouses to meet 
them. On comes the troop, their name being legion, 
sweeping in whizzing clouds like the African simoom ; 
but woe to the wretch who would consider them as such, 
and fall upon his face. The cattle rush to the water at 
their approach, and the wild animals sink into the depths 
of the forest. All night long the pseudo-sleeper tosses 
and writhes beneath his shield -like covering, while his 
brain throbs with heat and suppressed breathing ; but he 
dare not remove it. Above him are the musquitoes, 
marching and countermarching with lean figures, and 
drawn weapons, ready at the slightest opportunity for the 
charge ; and as the dense columns of reinforcements pour 
through every aperture, he can console himself only by 
picturing to his imagination the cool breezes and refresh- 
ing waters without, and by fixing his memory on home. 

An officer in the American army has given so excel- 
lent a description of the pleasures of soldiering, that we 
cannot resist the pleasure of transcribing it, with such 
little alterations as style or subject may require. 



c This country is distinguished above all other parti- 
culars, by its myriads of crawling, flying, stinging, and 
biting things. Every object has a spider on it. We 
are killing them all day in our tents. We never dare 
to draw on a boot, nor put on a hat or garment, without 
narrowly searching for some poisonous reptile or insect 
crouching in the folds ; and it is wonderful that we are 
not stung twenty times a day. Yesterday morning, 
while standing up at breakfast, (we never sit at meals 
in consequence of wanting the wherewithal to make a 
seat,) I felt some strange thing crawling up my leg 
about the knee. It did not take me long to seize it with 
my hand, and to disrobe. Looking into the leg of my 
drawers, I beheld a villanous-looking black and yellow 
creature, with a long bony tail. I called my mess to 
look at it, when Dr. Hoxey, who has been before in this 
reptile country, pronounced it a Mexican scorpion ; and 
told me, for my comfort, that it was as poisonous as a 
rattlesnake. No doubt when I clinched him with my 
hand, he struck out at my clothes, instead of in at my 
flesh. Thinks I to myself, there's an escape. Besides 
these, we have musquitoes, centipedes, hordes of flies, 
and every thing else that crawls, flies, bites, or makes 
a noise. A gang of locusts have domiciled themselves 
in our camp, keeping up a clatter all night ; which is 
seconded by the music of frogs, and the barking of 
prairie-dogs. A few nights since, a panther came smell- 
ing up to the lines of our sentries. All these small 
nuisances are universally pronounced in camp as death 
to one's patriotic emotions ; and a hard fight with the 
enemy, followed by a riddance of this pestilent countiy, 



would be hailed by the whole regiment as a consumma- 
tion of almost too much happiness. But here we are to 
stay, fighting insects and vermin, without any prospect 
of finding their masters, for whose special and appro- 
priate use Nature seems to have formed them. Some 
few of our officers profess to be enamoured of this 
country. The air near the sea-coast is certainly fine, 
and one is at a loss to account for the sickness ; but 
aside from that, I would willingly forego the possession 
of all the rich acres that I have seen, to get back from 
this land of half-breed Indians, and full-breed bugs.' 

A predominant feature in the Mexican character is 
superstition, that invariable accompaniment of ignorance 
and bigotry. This throws a kind of solemnity around 
their demeanor, which on some occasions, and especially 
iu certain localities, amounts to gloom or sadness. The 
Mexican regards his priest with an awe amounting to 
idolatry ; and believes him capable of working miracles, 
raising the dead, and arranging the destinies of the de- 
parted. Round every church and every monastery 
and every mouldering building, a halo is thrown, which, 
like a contagion, withers and enslaves the mind. Amid 
all the antiquities of his country, the venerable pyra- 
mids, sculptured palaces, and extended lines of massive 
walls and battlements, crumbling in the darkness and so- 
litude of the forests, he feels nothing but a gloomy dread 
of devils or wandering spirits, the same which prompted 
his ancestors to destroy the noble monuments of Aztecan 
science. Talk to him of the past, or draw an inference 
from it to apply to his own condition, and he shakes his 
head in ignorance and displeasure — such thoughts are 



above his comprehension. Even the common occur- 
rences and most necessary operations of life — such as 
planting, journeying, &c, are made the subject of reli- 
gious instruction and anxiety ; and the soul that moves 
all society, to which all others ate but automatons, is the 
priesthood . 

The religious orders have ever fostered this feeling, 
and used every exertion to maintain their unhallowed 
supremacy. Along every road, and upon the sides and 
tops of mountains, the traveller beholds small crosses, 
before which every Mexican must bow in passing ; and 
it is no uncommon sight to observe groups of men, 
women, and children, on their knees before one of these 
crucifixes. Sometimes a solitary penitent is there, with 
long black tresses floating on the wind, and eyes capable 
of witching the astonished beholder ; and yet she in- 
spires sadness, for we feel that the part enclosed in that 
beautiful frame, and which might sparkle with glorious 
effulgence, is a subdued and broken thing, condemned 
to perpetual slavery. The effects of this superstition 
pervade every condition of life, and render the Mexicans 
indolent, servile, and dependent ; so that the country, 
which, under able and enlightened influences, might 
become what Old Spain once was, is now a national 
albino, an infant credulous and cowering under the un- 
principled management of her nursery-like rulers. 

Another characteristic of the Mexican is dishonesty. 
This is so prevalent among the lower classes, that they 
have made a virtue of necessity, and consider thieving 
as an honorable employment. No ranchero ever per- 
mitted a proper opportunity to escape him. Travellers 



who have no money nor jewels, are eased of their super- 
abundant clothing; and ladies very frequently receive the 
same kind civilities. Even the foreign consuls when of- 
ficially engaged are obliged to be continually on the 
alert : and the happy merchant, as he trudges across the 
valley with his silver-laden mules, is frequently disbur- 
dened, in an unaccountably short space of time, from 
the anxieties of riches. The civil wars of Mexico have 
afforded rich harvests tor these transactions ; and govern- 
ment itself, anxious to monopolize so lucrative an em- 
ployment, has swept estate and fortune from many of 
the grandees, at the same time administering the heal- 
ing reflection, that a true patriot delights to benefit his 

A group of Mexican Indians,, released from daily 
toil, and enjoying the pleasures of gossip in the refresh- 
ing evening breeze, is a sight grotesque and relieving. 
The great dread of these beings is hard work : and once 
loosened from this, they fling aside all care,, and riot in 
uncontrolled enjoyment. The appearance of a laboring 
Indian is a great preventive of seriousness. His mouth 
is wide, his hair long and uncombed, and his dress open 
both for addition and variation. On the countenance 
there is a peculiar leer,, between a grin and a laugh, 
which, with his other accomplishments, tends powerfully 
to throw a reflective cast on the countenance of the be- 
holder. And when, with all these advantages in full 
play, he rises to thrum on a broken guitar, the star of 
every evening assembly, the beholder has before him a 
concentration of every thing ludicrous and ridiculous. 

The dance of these people is however graceful, and 



their inexhaustible humor makes these nightly frolics a 
source of passionate pleasure. The Indian is a far hap- 
pier being than his master ; he never reflects ; never 
thinks of the future ; never hopes for a change of lot. 
His father was a slave — so is he ; his child will be one. 
Hence he is not troubled with the choice of a profession. 
Freedom to him means having a lighter skin and con- 
stantly fighting ; and its real character, its power to 
renovate and ennoble him, is as incomprehensible as Is 
the idea of Deity to an Australian. He is a mournful 
comment on oppression — the blasted relic of a powerful 

The Mexican cavalry, either in parade or on the field 
of battle, present a stirring spectacle. One of their most 
singular weapons is the long lance, similar to that used 
by the knights of romance ; and indeed, their whole ap- 
pearance is not unlike those famous warriors. Their 
horses are gayly caparisoned, spirited, and under perfect 
control ; and when five or six thousand are sweeping 
along in one dense wave, with helmets and lances glit- 
tering in the sun, and the whole enveloped in thick vol- 
umes of dust, the display is grand. In the civil and 
revolutionary wars, the cavalry has always been the arm 
most relied upon ; and the most obstinate fighting at 
Buena Yista, performed by the Mexicans, was by the 

Altogether, Mexico presents a singular spectacle. 
She is a nation without government ; she exists without 
the qualifications to do so ; and is at present in open war 
with a power against whom she has never been able to 
stand in battle, and who, but for the climate, could in one 



campaign annihilate her; yet against all these difficulties 
she perseveres with a courage worthy of success, and 
that courage may give the historian abundance of future 
labor. Mexico is not yet conquered ; but even should 
she be, it seems difficult to suppose that her people 
would submit with tameness to the dominion of for- 


Monterey is one of the strongest cities of the West- 
ern continent. This distinction it owes not so much to 
the nature of its position, as to the extent and construc- 
tion of its walls and othei defences. The walls are of 
immense thickness, and constructed of a species of stone 
very difficult to split ; and it has eight large redoubts, 
mounting many guns, and provided with loop-holes for 
musketry. There are also large stone buildings, built 
expressly for defence, and each dwelling house is sur- 
mounted in front with a parapet, which in case of assault 
forms a breastwork of about three feet high. From this 
soldier or citizen can severely annoy an assailing armv, 
with perfect security to themselves, During the siege 
by General Taylor, each house was also bored for mus- 
ketry, so that the American troops were not only exposed 
to direct and cross fires from the batteries at every cor- 
ner, but also to a galling range of musketry, which raked 
their flanks throughout every street. 



The houses of Monterey are built of white stone, are 
square in shape, and in height rarely exceed two stories. 
The w r alls are very thick, and altogether, the aspect fo 
the city is strange to an inhabitant of the North. The 
architecture is strictly Moorish, and many of the houses 
are crumbling with age. The city covers a large area, 
but it is destitute of the compactness of those in the sister 
republics. In the centre is a large square called La 
Plaza, and round this the houses are large, numerous, 
and regular. This is the business quarter ; the stores of 
Spaniards, Englishmen, Americans, Germans, Dutchmen, 
and Frenchmen, are here ranged side by side ; and during 
the business hours of the day a Babel of dialects bewil- 
ders the wondering uninitiated. As we recede from this 
place the buildings are smaller in size and separated from 
each other ; until toward the walls, -the whole presents 
the appearance of a widely scattered village. The 
houses have dwindled into small huts, surrounded by ex- 
tensive fields, and connected with the municipal region 
by small lanes. This has one great advantage — it ren- 
ders the city healthy — the greatest of all blessings in a 
Mexican city. Many of the gardens are also beautiful ; 
and #mid the long hedges and tall chapparal, Monterey 
has her scenes of evening enjoyment, equal to any in 
the villages of Mexico. 

The inhabitants of Monterey present the usual Mexi- 
can character, except that they seem to be less sprightly 
than those of the other cities. They are sociable to 
strangers, and generally very hospitable ; but indolent 
in habits, and filthy in appearance. Both men and wo- 
men are fond of dancing, and this, with conversation, 



forms their chief amusement. Throughout the day the 
time is generally spent in sleeping or lounging ; but in 
the evening parties meet together for dance and song, 
according to the immemorial custom of all Spaniards. 
These parties are often made the occasions of great fes- 
tivity? especially on important holidays. 



Camp at Buena Vista, Feb. 24, 1847. 
Messrs. Editors : — On the morning of the 22d, in- 
telligence reached General Taylor, at his camp on the 
hill overlooking Saltillo from the south, that Santa Anna, 
whose presence in our vicinity had been reported for 
several days, was advancing upon our main body, sta- 
tioned near the rancho Sancho Juan de Buena Vista, 
about seven miles from Saltillo. The general immedi- 
ately moved forward with May's squadron of dragoons, 
Sherman's and Bragg's batteries of artillery, and the 
Mississippi regiment of riflemen, under Colonel Davis, 
and arrived at the position which he had selected for 
awaiting the attack of the enemy, about eleven o'clock. 
The time and the place, the hour and the man, seemed 
to promise a glorious celebration of the day. It was the 

* A correspondent of the New Orleans Tropic. 



22d of February, the anniversary of that day on which 
the God of battles gave to freedom its noblest champion, 
to patriotism its purest model, to America a preserver, 
and to the world the nearest realization of human per- 
fection — for panegyric sinks before the name of Wash- 

The morning was bright and beautiful. Not a cloud 
floated athwart the firmament, or dimmed the azure of 
the sky, and the flood of golden radiance, which gilded 
the mountain tops and poured over the valleys, wrought 
light and shade into a thousand fantastic forms. A soft 
breeze swept down from the mountains, rolling into 
graceful undulation the banner of the Republic, which 
was proudly streaming from the flag-staff of the fort, and 
from the towers and battlements of Saltillo. The omens 
were all in our favor. 

In the choice of his position, General Taylor had ex- 
hibited the same comprehensive sagacity and masterly 
coup aVozil w r hich characterized his dispositions at Resaca 
de la Palma, and which crowned triumphantly all his 
operations amid the blazing lines of Monterey. The 
mountains rise on either side of an irregular and broken 
valley, about three miles in width, dotted over with hills 
and ridges, and scarred with broad and winding ravines. 
The main road lies along the course of an arroyo, the bed 
of which is now so deep as to form an almost impassable 
barrier, while the other side is bounded by precipitous 
elevations, stretching perpendicularly towards the moun- 
tains, and separated by broad gullies, until they mingle 
into one at the base of the principal range. On the right 
of the narrowest point of the roadw^ay, a battalion of the 


1st Illinois regiment, under Lieut. Colonel Weather ford, 
was stationed in a small trench, extending to the natural 
ravine, while, on the opposite height, the main boclv of 
the regiment, under Colonel Hardin, was posted, with a 
single piece of artillery from Captain Washington's bat- 
tery. The post of honor on the extreme right was as- 
signed to Bragg's artillery, his left supported by the 2d 
regiment of Kentucky foot, under Colonel McKee, the 
left flank of which rested upon the arroyo. Washing- 
ton's battery occupied a position immediately in front of 
the narrow point of the roadway, in the rear of which 
and somewhat to the left, on another height, the 2d Illi- 
nois regiment, under Colonel Bissell, was posted. Next 
on the left, the Indiana brigade, under General Lane, 
was deployed, while on the extreme left the Kentucky 
cavalry, under Colonel Marshall, occupied a position 
directly under the frowning summits of the mountains. 
The two squadrons of the 1st and 2d dragoons, and the 
Arkansas cavalry, under Colonel Yell, were posted in 
the rear, ready for any service which the exigencies of 
the day might require. 

These dispositions had been made for some time, 
when the enemy was seen advancing in the distance, 
and the clouds of dust which rolled up before him gave 
satisfactory evidence that his numbers were not unworthy 
the trial of strength upon which we were about to enter. 
He arrived upon his position in immense numbers, and 
with force sufficiently numerous to have commenced his 
attack at once, had he been as confident of success as it 
subsequently appeared he was solicitous for our safety. 
The first evidence directly afforded us of the presence 

battle of b u e n a vista. 


of Santa Anna was a white flag, which was dimly seen 
fluttering in the breeze, and anon Surgeon-General Lin- 
den berg, of the Mexican army, arrived, bearing a beau- 
tiful emblem of benevolent bravado and Christian charity, 
[l was a missive from Santa Anna, suggested by consi- 
derations for our personal comfort, which has placed us 
under lasting obligations, proposing to General Taylor 
terms of unconditional surrender : promising good treat- 
ment, assuring us his force amounted to upwards of 
20,000. men, that our defeat was inevitable, and that, to 
spare the effusion of blood, his proposition should be com- 
plied with. Strange to say. the American General 
showed the greatest ingratitude, evinced no appreciation 
whatever of Santa Anna's kindness, and informed him 
that whether his force amounted to 20,000 or 50,000, it 
was equally a matter of indifference : the terms of ad- 
justment must be arranged by gunpowder. 

The messenger returned to his employer, and we 
watched in silence to hear the roar of his artillery. 
Hours rolled by without any movement on his part : and 
it appeared that the Mexican commander, grieved at our 
stubbornness, was almost disposed to retrace his steps, 
as if determined to have no further intercourse with such 
ungrateful audacity. At length he mustered resolution 
to open a fire from a mortar, throwing several shells into 
our camp, without execution, While this was going on, 
Captain Steen, of the 1st dragoons, with a single man, 
started toward a hill, on which the Mexican General 
seemed to be stationed, with his staff, but before he com- 
pleted the ascent the party vanished, and when he reached 
the top he discovered that two regiments had thrown 
themselves into squares to resist the charge. The Cap- 



tain's gravity was overcome by this opposition, and he 

Just before dark, a number of Santa Anna's infantry 
had succeeded in getting a position high up the moun- 
tains on our left, from which they could make a noise 
without exposing themselves to much danger, and at a 
distance of three hundred yards, opened a most tremen- 
dous fire upon Col. Marshall's regiment. This was re- 
turned by two of his companies, which were dismounted 
and detached for the purpose, as soon as they could ar- 
rive within a neighborly range. The skirmishing con- 
tinued till after dark, with no result to us. save the 
wounding of three men very slightly. 

During the night, a Mexican prisoner was taken, who 
reported Santa Anna's force as consisting of fifteen pieces 
of artillery, including some twenty- four- pounders, six 
thousand cavalry, and fifteen thousand infantry — thus 
confirming the statement of his superior. 

The firing on our extreme left, which ceased soon 
after sunset on the 22d, was renewed on the morning of 
the 23d, at an early hour. This was also accompanied 
by quick discharges of artillery from the same quarter, 
the Mexicans having established, during the night, a 
twelve-pounder, on a point at the base of the mountain, 
which commanded any position which could be taken by 
us. To counteract the effect of this piece. Lieut. O'Brien, 
4th artillery, was detached with three pieces of Washing- 
ton's battery, having with him Lieut. Bryan, of the topo- 
graphical engineers, who. having planted a few shells 
in the midst of the enemy's gunners, for the first time ef- 
fectually silenced his fire. 

From the movements soon perceptible along the left 


of our line, it became evident that the enemy was attempt- 
ing to turn that flank, and for that purpose had concen- 
trated a large body of cavalry and infantry on his right. 
The base of the mountain around which these troops were 
wending their way, seemed girdled with a belt of steel, 
as their glittering sabres and polished lances flashed back 
the beams of the morning sun. Sherman's and Bragg "s 
batteries were immediately ordered to the left; Col. Bis- 
sell's regiment occupied a position between them, while 
Col. McKee's Kentuckians were transferred from the 
right of our line, so as to hold a position near the centre. 

The second Indiana regiment, under Col. Bowles, was 
placed on our extreme left, nearly perpendicular to the 
direction of our line, so as to oppose, by a direct fire, the 
flank movement of the enemy. These dispositions hav- 
ing been promptly effected, the artillery of both armies 
opened its fires, and simultaneously the Mexican infantry 
commenced a rapid and extended discharge upon our 
line, from the left to McKee's regiment. Our artillery 
belched forth its thunders with tremendous effect, while 
the Kentuckians returned the fire of the Mexican infantry 
with great steadiness and success ; their field officers, 
McKee, Clay, and Fry, passing along their line, animat- 
ing and encouraging the men by precept and example. 

The second Illinois regiment also received the enemy's 
fire with great firmness, and returned an ample equiva- 
lent. While this fierce conflict was going on, the main 
body of Col. Hardin's regiment moved to the right of the 
Kentuckians, and the representatives of each State seemed 
to vie with each other in the honorable ambition of doing 
the best service for their country. Both regiments gal- 



lantly sustained their positions, and won unfading laurels. 
The veterans of Austerlitz could not have exhibited more 
courage, coolness and devotion. 

In the mean time the enemy's cavalry had been 
stealthily pursuing its way along the mountain, and 
though our artillery had wrought great havoc among its 
numbers, the leading squadrons had passed the extreme 
points of danger, and were almost in position to attack 
our rear. At this critical moment, * * * * * 
Several officers of Gen. Taylor's staff immediately dashed 
off, to arrest, if possible, the retreating regiment. * * 
Major Dix, of the pay department, formerly of the 7th 
infantry, * * and seizing the colors of the regiment, 
appealed to the men to know whether they had deter- 
mined to desert them. He was answered by three 
cheers, showing that ***** they were not 
unmindful of an act of distinguished gallantry on the 
part of another. A portion of the regiment immediately 
rallied around him, and was re-formed by the officers. 
Dix, in person, then led them towards the enemy, until 
one of the men volunteered to take the flag. The party 
returned to the field. * * * * * * 
While the day, however, by this disgraceful panic, 
was fast going against us, the artillery was advanced, 
its front extended, and different sections and pieces under 
Sherman, Bragg, O'Brien, Thomas, Reynolds, Kilburn, 
French, and Bryan, were working such carnage in the 
ranks of the enemy as to make his columns roll to and 
fro, like ships upon the billows. His triumph, at the 
Indiana retreat, was but a moment, and his shouts of 
joy were soon followed by groans of a\.guish, and 
shrieks of expiring hundreds. 



Washington's battery on the right had now opened 
its fire, and driven back a large party of lancers, ad- 
vancing in that direction. Along the entire line the 
battle raged with great fury. Twenty-one thousand of 
the victims of Mexican oppression and the myrmidons 
of Mexican despotism were arrayed against five thou- 
sand Americans, sent forth to conquer a peace. The 
discharges of the infantry followed each other more 
rapidly than the sounds of the Swiss Bell-Ringers v in the 
fierce fervor of a finale, and the volleys of artillery re- 
verberated through the mountains, like the thunders of 
an Alpine storm. 

The myriads of Mexican cavalry still pressed for- 
ward on our left, and threatened a charge upon the 
Mississippi rifles, under Colonel Davis, who had been 
ordered to support the Indiana regiment. * * 
* * * * * * * Colonel Davis 
immediately threw his command into the form of a Y, 
the opening towards the enemy, and awaited his ad- 
vance. On he came, dashing with all the speed of 
Mexican horses ; but when he arrived at that point from 
which could be seen the w T hites of his eyes, both lines 
poured forth a sheet of lead that scattered him like 
chaff, felling many a gallant steed to the earth, and 
sending scores of riders to the sleep that knows no 

While the dispersed Mexican cavalry were rallying, 
the 3d Indiana regiment, under Colonel Lane, was or- 
dered to join Colonel Davis, supported by a considerable 
body of horse. About this time, from some unknown 
reason, our wagon-train displayed its length along the 
Saltillo road, and offered a conspicuous prize for the 



Mexican lancers, which they seemed not unwilling to 
appropriate. Fortunately, Lieutenant Rucker, with a 
squadron of the first dragoons, (Captain Steen having 
been previously wounded and Captain Eustis confined to 
his bed by illness.) was present, and by order of General 
Taylor, dashed among them in a most brilliant style, 
dispersing them by his charge, as effectually as the pre- 
vious fire of the Mississippi riflemen. May's dragoons, 
with a squadron of Arkansas cavalry, under Captain 
Pike, and supported by a single piece of artillery, under 
Lieutenant Reynolds, now claimed their share in the 
discussion ; and when the Mexicans had again assem- 
bled, they had to encounter another shock from the two 
squadrons, besides a fierce fire of grape from Reynolds' 

The lancers once more rallied, and, directing their 
course towards the Saltillo road, were met by the re- 
mainder of Colonel Yell's regiment and Marshall's Ken- 
tuckians, who drove them towards the mountains on the 
opposite side of the valley, where, from their appearance 
when last visible, it may be presumed they are still 
running. In this precipitate movement, they were com- 
pelled to pass through a rancho, in which many of our 
valiant comrades had previously taken refuge, w r ho from 
this secure retreat, opened quite an effective fire upon 

At this time the Mexican force was much divided, and 
the fortunes of the day were with us. Santa Anna saw 
the crisis, and by craft and cunning sought to avert it. 
He sent a white flag to Gen. Taylor, desiring to know 
" what he wanted." This was at once believed to be a 



mere ruse to gain time and re-collect his men, but the 
American General thought fit to notice it, and General 
Wool was deputed to meet the representative of Santa 
Anna, and to say to him that we " wanted " peace. Be- 
fore the interview could be had, the Mexicans themselves 
re-opened their fires, thus adding treachery of the highest 
order to the other barbarian practices which distinguish 
their mode of warfare. The flag, however, had accom- 
plished the ends which its wily originator designed, for 
though our troops could have effectually prevented the 
remainder of the cavalry from joining the main body, it 
could only have been done by a fire, which, while the 
parley lasted, would have been an undoubted breach of 
faith. Although a portion of the lancers during this in- 
terim had regained their original position, a formidable 
number still remained behind. Upon these the infantry 
opened a brisk fire, while Reynolds's artillery, beautifully 
served, hailed the grape and cannister upon them with 
terrible effect. 

The craft of Santa Anna had restored his courage, 
and with his reinforcement of cavalry he determined to 
charge our line. Under cover of their artillery, horse 
and foot advanced upon our batteries. These, from the 
small ness of our infantry force, were but feebly support- 
ed, yet, by the most brilliant and daring efforts, nobly 
maintained their positions. Such was the rapidity of 
their transitions, that officers and pieces seemed empow- 
ered with ubiquity ; and upon cavalry and infantry 
alike, wherever they appeared, they poured so destruc- 
tive a fire as to silence the enemy's artillery, compel his 
whole line to fall back, and soon to assume a sort of 



sauve qui peut movement, indicating any thing but vic- 
tory. Again our spirits rose. The Mexicans appeared 
thoroughly routed, and while their regiments and divi- 
sions were flying before us. nearly all our light troops 
w^ere ordered forward, and followed them with a most 
deadlv fire, mingled with shouts which rose above the 
roar of artillery. 

While our men were driven through the ravines, at 
the extremities of which a body of Mexican lancers were 
stationed to pounce upon them like tigers, Brent and 
Whiting, of "Washington's battery, gave them such a tor- 
rent of grape as put them to flight, and thus saved the 
remnants of those brave regiments which had long borne 
the hottest portion of the fight. On the other flank, while 
the Mexicans came rushing on like legions of fiends, the 
artillery was left unsupported, and capture by the enemy 
seemed inevitable. But Bragg and Thomas rose with 
the crisis, and eclipsed even the fame they won at Mon- 
terey ; while Sherman, O'Brien, and Bryan, proved them- 
s?lves worthy of the alliance. Every horse with 
O'Brien's battery was killed, and the enemy had ad- 
vanced to within a range of grape, sweeping all before 
him. But here his progress was arrested, and before 
the showers of iron hail which assailed him, squadrons 
and battalions fell like leaves in the blasts of autumn. 
The Mexicans were once more driven back with great 
loss, though taking with them the three pieces of artil- 
lery which were without horses. 

In this charge the 1st Illinois regiment and McKee's 
Kentuckians w T ere foremost. The pursuit was too hot, 
and as it evinced too clearly our deficiency in numbers, 


the Mexicans, with a suddenness which was almost mag- 
ical, rallied and returned upon us. They came in myri- 
ads, and for a while the carnage was dreadful on both 
sides. We were but a handful to oppose the frightful 
masses which were hurled upon us, and could as easily 
have resisted an avalanche of thunderbolts. We were 
driven back, and the day seemed lost beyond redemp- 
tion. Victory, which a moment before appeared within 
our grasp, was suddenly torn from our standard. There 
was but one hope ; but that proved an anchor sure and 

Thus thrice during the day, when all seemed lost but 
honor, did the artillery, by the ability with which it was 
manoeuvred, roll back the tide of success from the enemy, 
and give such overwhelming destructiveness to its effect, 
that the army was saved and the glory of the American 
arms maintained. At this moment, however, let it never 
be forgotten, that while every effective man was wanted 
on the field, hundreds of volunteers had collected in the 
rancho, with the wagon-train, whom no efforts or en- 
treaties could induce to join their brethren, neighbors, and 
friends, then in the last struggle for victory. 

The battle had now raged with variable success for 
nearly ten hours, and by a sort of mutual consent, after 
the last carnage wrought among the Mexicans by the ar- 
tillery, both parties seemed willing to pause upon the re- 
sult. Night fell, and the American General, with his 
troops, slept upon the battle ground, prepared, if neces- 
sary, to resume operations on the morrow. But ere the 
sun rose again upon the scene, the Mexicans had disap- 
peared., leaving behind them only the hundreds of their 



dead and dying, whose bones are to whiten their native 
hills, and whose moans of anguish were to excite in their 
enemies that compassion which can have no existence in 
the bosoms of their friends. 


The most trying scene for the Mississippi regiment 
was immediately after the retreat of Colonel Bowles' In- 
dianians. At that time the battle was raging with a 
violence that shook earth and air for miles around. 
Cannon pealed after cannon, and thousands of muskets 
and small arms mingled together in one uninterrupted 
roar, while the neighboring mountains broke and rolled 
back the heavy sound as it leaped from crag to crag. 
Colonel Davis was ordered to advance and support the 
Indiana regiment. Before him were the cavalry with 
loosened reins and panting steeds, shouting from rank to 
rank, as they swept down upon the retreating regiments ; 
while on either side, columns of infantry were marching 
and countermarching and raking the field with their ri- 
fles. But, cool and intrepid, the colonel rode to the front 
of his regiment and ordered them into line. They 
formed, and he galloped by the long-extended ranks, his 
eye ranging along every movement until they had formed 
into two lines which met in the form of a V, the opening 
toward the enemy. Nearer and nearer drew the Mexi- 
can steeds, until each rifleman trembled with excitement 



and impatience. Colonel Davis was silent. Xow their 
dresses could be distinguished, and the next moment their 
faces and features. High hopes and unbreathed fears 
were centered upon that little volunteer band, and the 
stern eye of the commanding General hung over them 
with an almost agonized intensity. All around them 
was clamor, and uproar, and the gushing of blood, and 
shrieks of mangled soldiers. Colonel Davis was silent. 
Would he retreat like the Indianians. or permit the enemy 
to crush him without resistance ? Xot long was the sus- 
pense. Sure of victory, each Mexican grasped his lance 
and heaved forward for the charge, when ; *Fire I" rang 
along the volunteers ; a roar like thunder followed, and 
man after man sunk down in bloody heaps to the ground. 
Struck with dismay, the lacerated columns heaved back, 
and in mad confusion horse trod down horse, crushing 
wounded and dying beneath their hoofs, in the reckless 
rushings of retreat. It was a horrible moment ; and 
when the pageant had passed away, heaps of mutilated 
beings were stretched along the ground, writhing in the ex- 
tremities of agony. But a moment before they had been 
strong in life and hope ; now they were torn and trampled 
into the earth, while the blood was pouring from a dozen 
wounds, and the heart hurrying on to its last throb. 




Brigadier-General Wool may be termed a self- 
made soldier. No undeserved favor of superiors has 
enabled him to rise to the high post he now occupies in 
the army ; all is owing to his own industry, his own 

John E. Wool was born in Orange county, in the 
state of New- York. Of his childhood we are told little, 
except that at a very early age he lost his father, and re- 
moved to the country-seat of his grandfather, in Rensse- 
laer county. He appears to have been a boy of good 
habits and enterprising disposition, but at first his talents 
leaned more toward commercial business than war. 
Accordingly, he was placed as clerk to an establishment 
in the city of Troy, where his fidelity and application 
were such as to secure him the esteem of his employers, 
and in due time was admitted to their number. Business 
prospered, and for a few years, he seemed to be in a fair 
way to acquire a wealthy independence. But these fair 
prospects were blasted by a fire which stripped him of 
every thing, and launched him upon the world, once more 
penniless. But a new field of enterprise now displayed 
itself ; the difficulties between England and the United 
States concerning impressment were daily becoming more 
alarming ; and in anticipation of war, numbers of young 
men flocked into the army. Among these was young 
Wool, who was commissioned as captain of the 13th in- 
fantry, on the 14th of April, 1812. In the fall of the 
same year he fought at Queenston Heights, and displayed 



such courage and ability that he was rewarded with the 
rank of major of the 29th infantry. In 1814 he was 
with General Macomb at Plattsburg, where he led a sep- 
arate command with efficiency and success. Before the 
main attack of the 11th, he fought the battle of Beekman- 
town road, with 250 men, mostly raw militia, against a 
very large force of the enemy. The struggle was long, 
and so bloody that more than 300 men were killed and 
wounded between Beekmantown and the Saranac river. 
The British were foiled in all their attempts to cross the 
river, and Wool remained master of the field. The vic- 
tory was of great importance to the Americans, as it is 
more than probable that without it, a portion of the Brit- 
ish troops, on the night of the 6th of September, would 
have slept within the American lines. 

For this distinguished conduct Wool received the 
brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel in his own regiment, 
and the thanks of Congress. He was subsequently in the 
unfortunate affair of La Cole Mill, in the battle of Adie- 
town, and other smaller engagements, in all of which he 
displayed the same coolness and officer-like conduct, as 
he had displayed at Queenston. In 1816 he was ap- 
pointed inspector-general, a situation of no little difficulty 
and hardship. In the performance of his duties he was 
obliged to journey through every part of the United States, 
often over mountains and prairies, through dense forests, 
and uninhabitable wilds, where no foot but the Indian's ever 
trod. In the territories of Indiana, Missouri, Illinois and 
Iowa, he was often in the woods for months, exposed to 
hunger, cold, and almost every hardship which man can 
endure, with only Indian guides, whose fidelity was ex- 



tremely precarious. Yet his persevering mind overcame 
every obstacle, and he was uniformly cheerful and zeal- 
ous, and always made it a point to sacrifice ease and 
pleasure to duty. His services were the theme of admi- 
ration to both civil and military officers, and he was not 
unrewarded by government. In 1S26, he was bre vetted 
brigadier-general in reward for ten years' faithful services 
as inspector-general ; and on the 25th of June, 1841, he 
received further promotion, as full brigadier-general, and 
intrusted with the command of the Eastern Division of 
the army, which had been vacated by the appointment of 
General Scott as commander-in-chief, on the death of 
General Macomb. 

While inspector-general, Wool was engaged in some 
most important events not immediately connected with 
his office, but which rendered him for some time a con- 
spicuous object to the army. The first of these was his 
commission to suppress the troubles on the Canada bor- 
der. When the Canadians took up arms against the 
mother-country, numbers of individuals, prompted by 
sympathy and a kind of secret grudge against the old 
enemy, lent the insurgents their best wishes. Others 
went further. They transported supplies of provisions 
and military stores to them, and afterwards crossed the 
St. Lawrence to join their armies. These acts were 
considered by Great Britain as national assistance to 
treason, and, consequently her soldiers were not very 
lenient to the Americans who fell into their hands. 
Deeds of murder and robbery were given and retaliated, 
until the whole border was in a tumult of danger and 
excitement. The memory of these events is fresh to the 



inhabitants of the United States. The whole country- 
was oppressed with gloom and foreboding, and war with 
Great Britain was confidently expected. Had this been 
resorted to, it would have been far more terrible than 
any which has transpired since the days of Xapoleon ; 
and it is probable that we were saved from it only by the 
genius of one man — that man was General Wool. By 
firmness and indefatigable exertion, he broke up the 
mob meetings, prevented the injury of British or Ameri- 
can 1 bordermen," stopped all nightly parties whose ob- 
ject was plunder, and prevailed on the disaffected to 
surrender their arms and return home. 

General Wool was appointed to superintend the Che- 
rokee negotiation, during the arrangement for a treaty 
between them and the United States, prior to their re- 
moval west of the Mississippi* In this affair he acted 
with so much delicacy, as to win the acknowledgments 
of government, and the thanks of the Indians themselves. 

A somewhat more pleasing event than those we have 
mentioned, was his military visit to Europe, whose ob- 
ject was to gather hints from the tactics and discipline 
of other countries, by which he might improve the army 
of the United States. He was cordially received in 
Europe. By invitation of Louis Philippe, he attended 
an anniversary celebration of the " Three Days," at 
which he had the rare opportunity of seeing 70.000 men 
march before him, in all the exercises of review ; and 
he was subsequently a witness of the siege of Antwerp 
in Belgium. 

On his return to the United States, Gen. Wool applied 
himself assiduously to the perfection of American tactics 



as far as was consistent with his duties as inspector. In 
this he performed such efficient service, that on the 
breaking out of the present Mexican war, he was autho- 
rized by government to proceed to the West and organize 
for active duty the twelve-months volunteers of Ohio, 
Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, and Mississippi. 
This was a task of no little difficulty. None of these 
men had been in battle, and under the mere impulse of 
the moment they had flocked to the national standard, 
strangers to discipline or subordination, and expecting to 
be led immediately into battle. At the least delay, they 
became impatient, and even commenced loud murmurs 
against their officers. They were without tents, bag- 
gage, or proper arms or ammunition. Besides this, a 
tedious correspondence was to be sustained, not only 
with the different departments of government, but also 
with the governors of six states, and many military au- 
thorities. Yet all this was satisfactorily accomplished 
in six weeks ; in which short time General Wool raised, 
organized, and equipped, more than 12.000 men. In that 
short time, he passed and re-passed through almost all 
the western states, visiting depots, and barracks, and 
superintending the organization of each company at its 
arrival. Part of the troops were sent on to General 
Taylor, prior to the storming of Monterey ; and the re- 
mainder were collected into a separate command, to be 
called the Central Division, and destined to act in New 

About the middle of August, 1846. Wool arrived at 
San Antonio. Here his army of about 3,000 men was 
concentrated, and one column in readiness to march. 



By great exertions, the general was soon enabled to put 
half his men in motion ; leaving the remainder to be 
brought forward by Inspector-General Churchill, as soon 
as means of transportation and other indispensable sup- 
plies should arrive. In order to hasten the latter, he 
wrote for two hundred wagons and six hundred mules, 
to be shipped from New Orleans to Port Lavaca. On 
his arrival at that point, however, he found that nothing 
had been done for this purpose ; and it was only by 
rigid economy in the arrangement of his actual supplies, 
that he was not detained there a full month. 

On the 8th of October, he arrived at the Rio Grande, 
and crossed into Chihuahua on the 10th. In his march 
he received many civilities from the inhabitants ; and 
the strict decorum of his army drew commendations 
even from the ill-disposed. On the 29th, he was at 
Monclovia, where he remained twenty-seven days, in 
consequence of the armistice subsequent to the capitu- 
lation of Monterey. On the 25th of November, after 
leaving two companies on the Rio Grande, and four to 
garrison Monclovia, he resumed his march toward the 
city of Chihuahua ; but on his way he received notice 
from General Taylor, that the expedition against that 
city had been abandoned, and that he might take up a 
position at Parr as. This he did on the 5th of December. 

While in this position, Wool received orders to col- 
lect all the grain and flour that could be obtained, and 
forward them to the army of occupation. He had just 
entered upon this service, when notice reached him 
from Brigadier-General Worth, that Santa Anna was 
marching on Saltillo with a large force, and entreated 



Wool to join Worth with his column, as that officer had 
but 900 effective men. Wool received this notice on 
the afternoon of the 17th of December, and in two hours 
his force was in motion, with its heavy train of 350 
wagons, containing the ammunition, hospital stores, and 
sixty days' rations for the entire command. In four 
days they reached Agua Nueva, twenty-one miles in 
advance of Saltillo, having marched in that time 120 
miles. At the same time, General Worth called for 
General Butler and his command. Meanwhile, Taylor 
was on his way to Victoria ; but upon receiving notice 
from Worth that Santa Anna was approaching, he re- 
turned to Monterey. This multiplicity of movements 
caused a clashing of commands ; the result of which 
was, that General Wool was deprived of what he re- 
garded as essential to his efficiency in the field — his 
principal staff-officers, and all his wagons, ammunition, 
hospital-stores, and provisions, leaving him only his bag- 
gage train — in short, reducing him to the command of a 
simple brigade. He protested against this and appealed 
to General Taylor ; after which Butler was ordered to 
Monterey, and Wool placed in command of all the troops 
in and near Saltillo ; and his authority continued even 
after the arrival of General Taylor, who merely retained 
a small company in Saltillo. 

Thus the toilsome march of General Wool was 
brought to an honorable conclusion. It had the most 
beneficial effect upon all engaged, enuring the volunteers 
to fatigue, habituating them to the climate, and preparing 
the way for that endurance which they manifested at the 
pass of Angostura, and among the plains, gorges, and 



ravines of Buena Vista. Tbey had encountered barren 
plains, sandy ridges, cypress swamps, hog-wallow prai- 
ries, rapid torrents, mountain gorges, intense heat, and 
clouds of dust ; yet they gallantly moved on day after 
day, and week after week, with an order, fortitude, and 
celerity, which gave promise of efficient assistance upon 
the battle field. 

The honor of the choice of battle ground is said to 
belong to General Wool. Colonel Hardin first noticed 
the superior advantages of the field at Buena Vista, and 
pointed them out to Wool long before the battle was 
fought ; and although General Taylor preferred Agua 
Nueva, he yielded his own judgment to that of his brother 
officer. So says report. 

At Buena Vista Wool was the officer of the day, and 
a large share of the victory is justly his due. In the 
beginning of the battle he was ordered to advance in the 
very front of the enemy, which he did in fine order, and 
was soon engaged with immense masses of infantry and 
cavalry. He animated his men by the most extraordi- 
nary exertions of both voice and example, flying from 
rank to rank, wherever peril most showed itself, entirely 
heedless of the storm of bullets that was raining around 
him. He was in the middle of that terrible conflict, when 
the 2d regiment of Kentucky volunteers under Clay, Fry, 
and McKee, received the order to advance. In every 
one of those emergencies, when the day seemed lost, his 
shrill voice could be heard, piercing through the uproar 
of battle, and encouraging the troops to one more effort. 
His services are represented by General Taylor as in- 




The distinguishing feature of General Wool's char- 
acter, is his attention to order and discipline. This 
makes him a most valuable auxiliary in such an army 
as that of the United States, composed in a great measure 
of volunteers, from every portion of our immense terri- 
tory. In some respects, however, this is carried too far ; 
and a common complaint against him is on account of a 
harsh, overbearing deportment to both officers and men. 
This deprives him of the popularity which would be in- 
spired by a noble suavity like that of Worth, or such a 
disinterested frankness as characterizes Taylor. This is 
unfortunate ; being merely the excessive exercise of those 
rare qualities which make General W ool one of the ablest 
officers in the American service. 


In one of those dark moments, when the fortunes of 
Buena Vista seemed to be going against the Americans, 
McKee and Clay were detached with their Kentuckians, 
to resist the onset of the enemy. They sprung to the 
charge like eagles, marching over the most rushed 
and broken ground with the greatest celerity. They 
were watched by General Taylor with intense solicitude, 
for, should they retreat, the battle was lost. On they 
moved until they entered a valley broken up by masses 
of stone and deep ravines, and exposed to the fire of the 
enemy. All at once a strange commotion was observed 



in their ranks. A hill concealed every thing but their 
heads from the general, and these were observed swaying 
hither and thither, and scattering as if in flight. The 
commander rose upon his horse and bent forward with 
deep excitement. A flight became more and more evi- 
dent until he could no longer repress his emotion. 
Turning to his aid, Mr. Crittenden, who was standing 
near, he exclaimed with startling energy : " Is this con- 
duct for Kentuckians ?" The aid was silent, and' the 
general again bent his anxious gaze upon the faithless 
regiment. Suddenly his features relaxed, and a flush of 
pleasure swept over his aged face— they had emerged 
from the valley in perfect order, each gallant leader in 
his place, and pushing onward to the battle. Silently 
and steadily they moved under the fire of the enemy, 
until within musket range, when one wide sheet of fire 
burst from their rifles, and the reeling ranks of Mexico 
announced that victory was once more with the Ameri- 
cans. At this sight the emotions of the general were too 
powerful to be controlled ; and tears of exulting patriot- 
ism coursed down his cheeks. 

But of those brave men that thus moved on to danger, 
under the deep determination to conquer, how many met 
death for the last time ! The storm of that awful day 
passed by, and its thunder was hushed in the calmness of 
evening ; but in every ledge, and by every stone, the 
mangled sons of Kentucky lay cold and stiff, in the dream 
that knows no waking. The young heart that had that 
morning bounded with patriotism at the sight of the ene- 
my, was now spilling its blood where no friend would 
ever pause over its grave. In the last charge, man after 



man fell before the Mexican cannon, until groups and 
masses lay piled upon each other over all the field. Co» 
lonel McKee fell pierced with a mortal wound, and was 
subsequently hacked and mutilated by the bayonets of 
the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Clay was wounded in 
the leg, and sat down to die. But his brave men rushed 
from their ranks, and bore him in their arms. The ene- 
my saw it, and poured on, yelling like fiends. Unmind- 
ful of themselves, the sorrowing soldiers bore their be- 
loved leader onward, until the road became so rugged 
that it was impossible for two to walk together. ,; Leave 
me, soldiers, 5 '' exclaimed the dying youth, ,; and take care 
of yourselves. " Still they bore on, until their burden 
lowered from their exhausted limbs, and with a gushing 
of deepest sorrow, they left him on the field. The next 
moment the Mexicans were by his side. But honor was 
yet too dear to him ; raising himself on one arm he 
wielded his sword with a fury that for a moment held an 
army at bay. But at each motion the blood flowed faster 
from his wound, until he sunk exhausted. Then the 
enemy approached him, and a score of bayonets gritted 
together as they crossed in his lacerated frame. 





From the Rio Grande's waters to the icy capes of Maine 
Let all exult, for we have met the enemy again ; 
Beneath their stern old mountains, we have met them in their 

And roiled from Buena Vista back the battle's bloody tida; 
When the enemy came surging, like the Mississippi's flood, 
And the reaper, Death, was busy with his sickle red with blood. 

Sant' Anna boasted loudly that before two hours were past, 
His lancers through Saltillo should pursue us thick and fast ; 
On came his solid infantry, line marching after line ; 
Lo ! their great standards in the sun like sheets of silver shine ! 
With thousands after thousands, yea, with more than ten to one, 
A forest of bright bayonets gleam fiercely in the sun. 

Lo ! Guanaguato's regiment ! Lo ! Puebla's boasted corps, 
And Guadalajara's chosen troops, all veterans tried before. 
And galloping upon the sight, four thousand lances gleam, 
Where, waving in the morning light, their blood-red pennons 

And there their stern artillery climbs up the broad plateau, 
To-day they mean to strike at us an ovei^melming blow. 

Now, hold on strongly to the heights, for lo ! the mighty tide 
Comes thundering like an avalanche, deep, terrible, and wide : 
Now, Illinois, stand steady — Now, Kentucky, to their aid, 
For a portion of our waving line is broken and dismay'd ; 
A regiment of fugitives are fleeing from the field, 
And the day is lost if Illinois and brave Kentucky yield ! 



One of O'Brien's guns is gone ! on, on ! their masses drift, 
And their infantry and lancers now are passing to our left ; 
Our troops are driven from the hills, and flee in wild dismay, 
And round us gather thick and dark the Mexican array. 
Sant' Anna thinks the day is gain'd, and, riding yet more near, 
Minon's dark cloud of lancers sternly menace now our rear. 

Now, Lincoln, gallant gentleman ! lies dead upon the field, 
Who strove to stay those men that in the storm of bullets reeled ; 
Now, Washington, fire fast and true ! fire, Sherman, fast and 
far : 

Lo ! Bragg comes thundering to the front to breast the adverse 
war ; 

Sant' Anna thinks the day is gain'd ; on, on, his masses crowd, 
And the din of battle rises up more terrible and loud. 

Not yet ! our brave old General comes — he will regain the day — 
Kentucky, to the rescue ! Mississippi, to the fray ! 
Now, charge, brave Illinoisans ! and Davis drives the foe, 
And back upon his rifles the red waves of lancers flow ; 
Upon them, yet once more, my braves ! the avalanche is stay'd, 
Back rolls the Mexique multitude, all broken and dismay 'd. 

Ho ! May ! to Buena Vista ! for the enemy is near, 
And we have none there who can stop their vehement career. 
Still swelling, downward comes the tide— Porter and Yell are 
slain ; 

Marshall before him drives a part, but still they charge in vain ; 
And now, in wild confusion mixed, pursuers and pursued, 
On to Saltillo wildly drift, a frantic multitude. 

Upon them, with your squadrons, May ! — out leaps the flaming 

Before his serried columns, how the frightened lancers reel ; 



They flee amain ! now to the left, to stay their triumph there, 
Or else the day is surely lost in horror and despair ; 
For their hosts are pouring swiftly on, like a river in the spring. 
Our flank is turn'd, and on our left their cannon's thundering. 

Now, brave artillery ! bold dragoons ! steady, my men, and calm. 
Through rain, and hail, and thunder,* now nerve each gallant 
arm ; 

What though their shots fall round us here, still thicker than 
the hail ? 

We '11 stand against them, as the rock stands firm against the 
gale : 

Lo ! their battery is silenced now ! our iron hail still showers— 
They falter, halt, retreat ; Hurrah ! the glorious day is ours ! 

Now, charge again, Sant' Anna ! or the day is surely lost, 
For back, like broken leaves, along our left your hordes are 
toss'd — 

Still louder roars his batteries, his strong reserve moves on ; 
More work is there before you, men, ere the good fight is won ; 
Now for your wives and children, men ! stand steady yet once 
more ! 

Now for your lives, your honor, fight, as you never fought 

Ho ! Hardin breasts it bravely ! McKee and Bissell there 
Stand firm, before the storm of balls that fill the astonish'd air — 
The lancers are upon them too, the foe stands ten to one — 
Hardin is slain ! McKee and Clay the last time see the sun ; 
And many another gallant heart in that last desperate fray 
Grows cold, its last thoughts turning towards its loved ones far 

* A portion of the day, during the battle, a hail storm swept over 
the field, accompanied with thunder, lightning, and rain. 



Still sullenly the cannon roar'd. but died away at last 
And o'er the dead and dying came the evening shadows fast ; 
And then above the mountains, spread the cold moon's silvery 

And patiently and pityingly look'd down upon the field ; 
And careless of his wounded, and neglectful of his dead, 
Despairingly and sullenly in the night the foeman fled. 

And thus on Buena Vista's heights a long day's work was 

And there our brave old General another battle won : 
And still our glorious banner waves, unstained by flight or 

And the Mexicans, among their hills, still tremble at our name. 
So honor unto those who stood ! Disgrace to those that fled ! 
And everlasting glory to the brave and gallant dead. 


The loss of the Americans in officers, at the battle 
of Buena' Vista, is a subject of sorrow and astonishment. 
One-eighth of the slain icere officers. Many of these were 
young men — in the full flush of hope and ambition, and 
endeared to their country by their valuable services 
during long marches, and by their heroism on the fatal 
battle-field. One of these was Colonel Yell. He had 
accompanied General Wool in his march through New 
Mexico, and commanded the regiment of Arkansas 


mounted volunteers. Through the whole battle, he had 
behaved with the greatest bravery ; and when the Mexi- 
cans threatened an attack upon the wagon-train near 
Buena Vista, he was despatched to oppose them. The 
cavalry of the two armies met, and the short conflict 
was fierce and bloody. The Mexicans then divided, 
one part sweeping by the American depot, where they 
received a heavy fire from a force collected there ; and 
the other, passing on toward the main body. Colonel 
Yell was engaged with the latter ; and in the act of 
charging upon them, at the head of his regiment, he 
was killed with a lance, which entered his mouth, 
wrenched off his lower jaw, and crushed one side of his 
face. The Mexicans were repelled with heavy loss. 


The most prominent event in the life of General 
Taylor — that which will forward his name to posterity, 
as one of the greatest of living Generals — is his conduct 
at Buena Vista. Palo Alto and Monterey had created 
his military fame ; but it belonged to a fiercer conflict, to 
a season of unparalleled hardship and danger, to establish 
it. Few men could have conquered at that battle, for it 
was one of those that baffle scientific skill, and whose 
emergencies cannot be foreseen, nor its incidents met, ex- 
cept at the moment of their development. The nature 
of the ground, the mixed character of the assailing army, 



together with the disparity in numbers, rendered it by 
far the most remarkable military event ever enacted on 
this continent. 

But it is in such emergencies as this that General 
Taylor is at liome. Here, as difficulty after difficulty 
crowds upon him, his genius gathers its powers, and rises 
like a giant to meet them. While the detached cavalry 
of Santa Anna were scattering before the vollies of artil- 
lery, he sat quietly on his horse, with his telescope in his 
hand, and one foot over the pommel of the saddle ; but 
when from the roughness of the ground the Kentucky 
regiment, in whom lay all his hopes, appeared to be in 
disorder, his every nerve was alive with activity, and his 
face blackened with the intensity of excitement. Every 
manoeuvre of the field was within his grasp, and every 
soldier felt that the eye of General Taylor was upon him. 
When he placed himself in the square of the Mississippi- 
ans, they knew that victory was among them : and no 
one of them would for a moment have thought of retreat- 
ing while lie was there. 

A cardinal element of this victory was the mutual 
confidence of army and leader. Most of the soldiers had 
never fought under the General : they knew him only as 
the hero of Resaca and Monterey, and as the companion 
of their hardships. But they had associated his name 
with victory, and during every peril of the battle, never 
dreamed of defeat. " They didn't know when they were 
beaten " Perhaps no one idea was so prominent in the 
minds of those brave men during the whole conflict, as a 
desire to serve their commander — their reward was vic- 



Such was General Taylor at Buena Vista. When 
the excitement ever attending a recent great event shall 
have subsided, and posterity will weigh the battle in the 
scale of history, Taylor will be assigned a place by Wel- 
lington, or Bonaparte himself. He may fight on other 
fields, and win for himself fresh laurels ; but they cannot 
add to the zenith of his military renown. 


The services of General Twiggs, prior to the Mexi- 
can war, were rather solid than showy. He entered 
the army as captain, March 12th, 1812, and served 
with ability until its close. A blank then intervenes in 
his history until May 14th, 1825, when he was pro- 
moted to the rank of major ; after which we again hear 
little of him until he was made a colonel, on the 8th of 
June, 1836. 

Like Worth, Colonel Twiggs inarched with General 
Taylor from Corpus Christi, to take occupation of the 
department of Tamaulipas. When the army had crossed 
the Colorado, and were approaching Point Isabel, the com- 
mander was waited on by a delegation, protesting against 
his advance. While the conference was going on it was 
ascertained that Point Isabel had been fired, and imme- 
diately Colonel Twiggs was despatched to arrest the 
conflagration, and capture the perpetrators. Some of the 
houses were saved, and General Garcia with his Mexi- 
cans made a very narrow escape from being captured. 



On the field of Palo Alto, Twiggs led the whole 
right wing of the army, and performed the most efficient 
service ; and on the following day, the greater part of 
the whole force was by turns under his eye. He com- 
manded the van in crossing the Rio Grande ; and after 
the capitulation of Matamoras, was appointed governor 
of that city. For his valuable services in these trying 
scenes, government promoted him to the rank of briga- 

The opportunity offered by the siege of Monterey, 
for the exercise of so much distinguished talent, was not 
lost to General Twiggs. He was ordered by the com- 
mander, to make a diversion to cover the attack of Gene- 
ral Worth upon the Heights of Independence, and the 
execution of this duty brought him into close quarters 
with the batteries of the enemy. The conflict in the 
streets of the city was terrible, and no man behaved 
more bravely, or suffered greater loss, than did General 
Twiggs. Under his immediate direction, the troops of 
the 1st division fought heroically, and captured an ad- 
vanced battery of the enemy, the guns of which were 
turned against them. 

The good conduct of General Twiggs during the 
whole of this siege, is noticed by General Taylor in 
terms of high commendation ; and after the capitulation, 
he was honored with several posts of importance and 
responsibility. He continued to afford efficient aid to 
General Taylor, until the demand upon that officer for 
troops, when he was sent to the army of General Scott. 

At Vera Cruz, Twiggs displayed the same coolness 
and bravery which had distinguished him at Monterey. 



In taking the position allotted to him. he was obliged to 
march up a most difficult ridge, over a great part of 
which the cannon had to be lifted by the men. Having 
gained the height, he remained there until the surren- 

On the 3d of April, General Twiggs left Vera Cruz 
with 2500 troops, and marched toward the city of Jalapa. 
He was preceded by 500 men under Colonel Harney, 
and soon after starting, was followed by Colonel Bank- 
head with the 2d artillery regiment and a large train. 
On the 11th, the general reached the Plan del Rio, at 
which place the advance under Colonel Harney encoun- 
tered and dispersed a body of Mexican lancers. On the 
following day he was joined by detachments under Gen- 
erals Pillow and Shields. The same day he received 
notice that Major- General Patterson was sick, and the 
command of the whole thus devolved upon him. In the 
great battle of Sierra Gordo, his division performed as 
valuable service as any engaged. Colonel Harney was 
particularly distinguished. He pushed his command 
within full range of the enemy's guns, on the night of 
the 17th, and on the following day carried one of the 
strongest redoubts amid a heavy fire, and subsequently 
pursued the Mexicans to a considerable distance. At 
the same time Colonel Riley and General Shields crossed 
a deep ravine and took position on the Jalapa road, in 
order to cut off the retreat of the Mexicans. In this 
service Shields was severely wounded, and his command 
devolved upon Colonel Baker, who conducted it with 
ability for the remainder of the day. 

On the 19th, Twiggs took undisputed possession of 


the town of Jalapa, which was his last military achieve- 

The subject of our sketch is a native of the state of 
Georgia. His excellent talents as a soldier and officer 
seem not to have been well understood, prior to the 
Mexican war ; but he has now earned for himself an 
enviable reputation in military operations, and one which 
renders him worthy of the marks of distinction by which 
he has been honored from both public and private 



The artillery was the arm which won the battle of 
Buena Vista ; and none distinguished themselves more 
in its management, than the two officers who form the 
subject of our sketch. They sustained, singly, the 
charge of the whole body of the enemy's lancers, a force 
numbering some thousands more than their own ; and 
although each moment expecting that the crushing ava- 
lanche would sweep over guns and horses, yet they re- 
mained firm at their post, until victory was certain. 
The situation of O'Brien was peculiarly trying. A tre- 
mendous cross-fire of the enemy swept across the field, 
whistling and rattling on the stony surface, and driving 
back the small body of infantry which had been ordered 
to support him. At that moment he paused, and looking 



behind, the danger of his situation burst upon him. 
Before him were the heavy columns of lancers, their 
trampling horses crowding upon each other, and the 
long rows of lances glittering and dancing in the sun- 
shine ; in the rear and flanks were the infantry, whose 
artillery had already driven away his only support. If 
he yielded, the day was lost ; if he stood, he might be 
crushed to pieces. Two horses had fallen under him, 
and he had received a wound in the leg. Most of his 
cannoneers were dead or wounded, and some of the 
guns perfectly idle. He resolved to stand. Riding 
round and round his guns, he cheered his men for the 
terrible encounter, and exhorted them not to fire until 
the cavalry were within a few yards of the muzzles. 
On they came, shaking the earth under the gallop of 
their horses. Nearer and nearer they drew, until the 
raised hoof almost struck the cannon, when a roar like 
thunder burst forth, and scores of steeds and riders 
reeled back upon their startled companions. Then for 
a moment all was confusion, and the huge mass swayed 
to and fro in fearful uncertainty. But they again 
formed, and prepared for a decisive struggle. This 
was the fearful moment ; hundreds of anxious eyes were 
bent intensely on the few devoted men, who were thus 
battling in the jaws of death. At this moment, the 
steadiness of the young cannoneers forsook them. They 
were unable to maintain their stations, and their captain 
grew pale with excitement, as he felt that victory was 
wrenched from his grasp. Slowly and sternly he left 
his guns, and retired to join the other artillery. But he 
was not unrewarded ; he had remained long enough to 



enable reinforcements to arrive ; and to him, as much 
as to any man on the field, was the final victory owing. 

Equally perilous was the service of Captain Bragg. 
All day his force was moving over the field, engaged at 
every point where it could be of any avail. When we 
remember that all his movements were across rocks and 
gullies where it was almost impossible to travel, we will 
have a better idea of their importance. Charge after 
charge was made upon him, and often he was forced 
to leave his heaviest artillery in some unprotected 
position, in order to arrive at a threatened position in 
time to be of service. He thus describes his last en- 
counter with the enemy : " Knowing the importance of 
my presence, I left some of my heaviest carriages, and 
pushed on with such as could move most rapidly. Hav- 
ing gained a point from which my guns could be used, 
I put them in battery and loaded with canister. Now, 
for the first time, I felt the imminent peril in which we 
stood. Our infantry was routed, our advanced artillery 
captured, and the enemy in heavy force coming upon us 
at a run. Feeling that the day depended upon the suc- 
cessful stand of our artillery, I appealed to the com- 
manding general, who was near, for support. None was 
to be had ; and, under his instructions to maintain our 
position at every hazard, I returned to my battery, en- 
couraged my men, and, when the enemy arrived within 
good range, poured forth the canister as rapidly as my 
guns could be loaded. At the first discharge I observed 
the enemy falter, and in a short time he was in full re- 
treat. A very heavy loss must have been sustained by 
him, however, before he got beyond our range. My guns 



were now advanced several hundred yards, and opened 
on a position held by the enemy, with a battery of heavier 
calibre than our own — the same from which our left flank 
had been driven in the afternoon. Under the support of 
the Mississippi regiment, I continued my fire until con- 
vinced that nothing could be effected — the enemy holding 
an eminence from which we could not dislodge him 
without a sacrifice which might compromise the success 
of the day. About sunset I withdrew my battery into 
the ravine in rear of our line, and took a position for the 
night from which I could readily move to any assailable 
point. Here I remained, officers and men on the alert, 
and horses in harness. 5 '* 

Had the Mexicans managed their artillery with the 
same bravery as did these two intrepid officers, the 
American army must have been cut to pieces. Captain 
Bragg discharged two hundred and fifty rounds of ammu- 
nition from each of his guns ; and during the whole bat- 
tle, the ground seemed to reel with the incessant peals 
of heavy cannon. As the batteries poured forth their 
fiery showers, whole companies sunk shrieking to the 
ground ; and in the morning, the masses of dead and 
dying, piled upon one another, told a fearful narrative of 
the artillery of the preceding clay. 


We find the annexed verses, by Don Jose Ho Ace de Saltillo, a 
Mexican poet, in a recent North American. It may be well to re- 
mark, for the information of our English and Canadian readers, that 



the battle of Buena Vista is that in which General Taylor (" Old 
Zack") last defeated the Mexicans, and that the Mexican poet calls 
his own country Aztec, its ancient name, while he gives to the 
Americans the name of Alleghan or Alleghanian. The " sun " of 
Aztec and the " stars " of Alleghan are the banners of the respec- 
tive combatants. The " patriot chief" is Santa Anna, the Presi- 
dent of the Mexican Republic, and commander of the Mexican 

We saw their watch-fires through the night, 

Light up the far horizon's verge ; 
We heard at dawn the gathering fight, 

Swell like the distant ocean surge — 
The thunder-tramp of mounted hordes 

From distance sweeps— a boding sound — 
As x\ztec's twenty thousand swords 

And clanking chargers shake the ground. 

A gun ! — now all is hushed again — 

How strange that lull before the storm ! 
That fearful silence o'er the plain — 

Halt they their battle-line to form ? 
It booms again — again — again — 

And through its thick and thunderous shock 
The war-scream seems to pierce the brain, 

As charging squadrons interlock. 
Columbia's sons — of different race — 

Proud Aztec and brave Alleghan, 
Are grappled there in death-embrace, 

To rend each other, man to man ! 

The storm-clouds lift, and through the haze, 

Dissolving in the noontide light, 
I see the sun of Aztec blaze 

Upon her banner, broad and bright ! 


And on — still on. her ensigns wave. 

Flinging abroad each glorious fold : 
While drooping round each sullen stave 

Cling Alleghan's but half unrolled. 

But stay ! that shout has stirred the air ! 

I see the stripes — I see the stars — 
O God ! who leads the phalanx there, 

Beneath those fearful meteor-bars ? 
" Old Zack " — Old Zack " — the war-cry rattles 1 

Amid those men of iron tread. 
As rung " Old Fritz." in Europe's battles, 

When thus his host great Frederick led ! 

And where, O where is Aztec ?— where, 

As now the rush of Alleghan 
Resistless tramples to despair 

The ranks of our victorious van ? 
Still charging onward ever — ever, 

They shatter now our central might, 
Where half our bravest lances shiver, 

Still struggling to maintain the right ! 

Still struggling, from the carnage dire 

To snatch our patriot chief away — 
Who. crushed by famine, steel, and fire, 

Yet claims as his the desperate day ; 
That day whose sinking light is shed 

O'er Buena Vista's field, to tell 
Where round the sleeping and the dead, 

Stalks conquering Taylor's sentinel. 



The present war is emphatically a war of chivalry. 
True it has its dark spots — retaliatory murders, killing 
of the wounded, and robbing the dead. But most of 
these may be considered atrocities on individual respon- 
sibility, rather than the general character of the whole 
warfare. After the battle is over, it is a well known fact 
that the soldiers, especially of the American army, spread 
themselves over the field, to afford assistance to the 
wounded and burial to the dead, both friend and foe, and 
it cannot be denied that the Mexicans have conducted 
themselves far more humanely toward the wounded and 
prisoners in this war, than they have ever been known 
to do before. 

We have a refreshing instance of this feeling in a late 
visit paid by General Taylor to the plantatiou of General 
Arista. The hacienda, as it is called by the Mexicans, is 
very extensive, comprising more than forty square miles, 
and containing several large buildings of the old Spanish 
architecture. Many miles of it, however, are said to be 
waste and overgrown with thickets of chapparal, and the 
whole has that wilderness-like appearance, so usual 
among the plantations of Mexico. The estate is man- 
aged by an administrador, who has under him an over- 
seer, and about ninety men and boys (peons), with as 
many females. The latter, with the peons, are nominally 
servants — actually slaves. 

General Taylor set out for this place on the 7th of 


July, attended by his staff. This voluntary leave of ab- 
sence, for the purpose of recreation, is so unusual with 
the General, that it was regarded by the army as most 
remarkable, if not ominous. The party passed through 
several small villages, the sight of which seemed to afford 
the hero great pleasure, and arrived at Salinas in the after- 
noon. The alcayde of the town received his visitor with 
demonstrations of cordial respect, and before leaving, the 
party were revelling at a feast of the fat things of Salinas. 
These were figs and green water-melons. 

Upon hearing of the approach of General Taylor the 
administrador of the estate began unheard-of preparations 
for his reception- Plans of feasts, balls and soirees, were 
projected immediately. Of the motives of the worthy 
deputy, we are not informed. Perhaps gratitude to the 
General for services to his master at Palo Alto, by which 
he himself had been in a measure enfranchised, was one. 
Perhaps, with a prophetic eye, he scanned the future, and 
determined to serve him best, to whom he might be one 
day indebted most. Perhaps he had a mind above the 
common grade, and, like the barons of romance, poured 
forth generosity equally to friend and foe. 

Whatever may have been the feelings of the worthy 
representative, they were certainly praise-worthy, if we 
may gage them by his actions. He met the General 
at some distance from the plantation, offered him the hos- 
pitalities of the estate, and assisted in arranging the tents 
amid a delicious shade of pecan trees, about half a mile 
from the main building. These small favors were but a 
prelude to weightier subjects. When the General had 
adjusted himself, in true Rough and Ready style, a grand 


talk was held, which, although not chronicled, was no 
doubt rife with " war's dread story " and camp anec- 
dotes. All parties forgot that they were enemies — indeed 
they were not so. A more friendly circle rarely meets 
in Mexico. 

In the evening the Americans were invited to a grand 
fandango (evening party) provided especially for their 
benefit. The invitation and Order of Exercises were 
presented to the General orally, it being somewhat diffi- 
cult to find a scrivener in Mexico. They were somewhat 
novel to the commander. Orders from Washington, or- 
ders from Arista, general orders, marching orders, and 
some others he could understand ; but orders to attend 
a Mexican fandago — what military code ever provided 
for such an emergency ? By the help of the brother of- 
ficers, however, the nature of the affair was gradually 
unfolded to him ; and the happy Mexican was given to 
understand that in the evening his roof would cover Gen- 
eral Taylor. 

Evening came. General Taylor. " Whiter," and 
suite, repaired to the halls of Arista. In front of the 
house three rows of benches were arranged, forming 
three sides of a square, and leaving a large space be- 
tween. Upon them were seated the male and female 
tenantry, the dancing-ground being lighted by two torches 
of split pine wood. We are not told of the General J s re- 
ception, but he was doubtless the observed of all observ- 
ers, the very lion of that social company. About sixty 
"ladies' 5 were present, all of them extremely brown, ex- 
tremely ugly, and extremely eager for action. The 
dance begun, notwithstanding, and each one seemed de- 


termined to make the rest happy. It was a gay time— 
a bright relief to war's black page. The orchestra con- 
sisted of two violins, two guitars, and a double chorus of 
men ? s bass, boys' alto, and shrill soprano. The music 
was various — an Indian chaunt, then a symphony, then 
a national air, then a quadrille, then a condensation of 
singing, chaunting, dancing, shrieking, and riddling. 
The General was a looker-on. 

There was something singular in this scene. It was 
wild and picturesque ; and amid the grand sublimity of 
a Mexican prospect, filled the mind with emotions strange 
and powerful. The Genius of War was waving his 
bloody sword over that land, and the shock of mighty 
armies had scarcely ceased its echo from the distant 
mountains. Yet here was the favored one of that Genius, 
unbending his mind from the din of battle, to enjoy the 
festivities of those whom he had conquered. A little 
more than a year ago, while Arista was rusticating on 
this same hacienda, he received the notification of his 
being placed in command, and his very first order, on as- 
suming his authority, was dated from Mamaleque. Now 
he is vanquished, disgraced, stripped of command and 
estate, and his vanquisher has penetrated to his secluded 
home, to be entertained and honored by his dependants. 

The General remained at the hacienda during the 
night, and early on the morning of the 8th he was quietly 
trotting towards Monterey. 



Among the distinguished characters of the Mexican 
war, history must do " all honor" to " Old Tom," whose 
scars, brought from many a " well-trodden field" attest 
the war-worn and aged veteran ; although he has, in 
fact, but attained his sixteenth year. 

It is not known that his hair has turned gray, in- 
deed, at his years, the warrior seldom has much to boast 
of — on his chin, at least. Jet-black, long, and ample, 
however, was our hero's supply in his fifth year, when 
first we hear of him emerging from the folds of Ken- 
tucky, to join our troop in the Florida war. Arrived 
there, by May, his cheval-ry was first discovered and 
brought to light; and true it is, that since then, with 
every emergency of travel, flood, and battle-field, it hath 
ever kept pace, until now, when age and honorable 
wounds entitle him to repose on his laurels — though 
neither he nor other heroes can fatten on them entirely, 
however graminivorous they May be. 

" Something too much of this." — The dignity of the 
subject requires, perhaps, a graver strain ; not that it is 
here meant to impinge on the province of History, by 
entering into minute and learned detail, plentifully 
sprinkled with philosophical and political reflections, but 
rather to give some characteristic sketches and promi- 
nent incidents of the Life of Lieutenant- Colonel May's 
war-horse — which more appropriately belong to biogra- 
phy. (By the by, this ought to be auto-biography ; but 



let the critics concentrate their fire on this point, and 
they may have no powder or shot for the rest.) 

Old Tom. as we have intimated, left his native fields 
of Kentucky some eleven years ago, among a herd of 
similar natives, designed to recruit the files of the dragoon 
troop, then in Florida. By way of a parenthesis, again, 
it must be said, that the Hon. Wm. Cost Johnson claims 
for Old Tom a Maryland origin — but it is now believed 
to be abundantly settled, that he was sired in " old Ken- 
tuck,'' by the celebrated " Whip.'' May's eagle-eye 
quickly selected him from the mass — " ignobile valgus." 
Trained and tutored in the menage, Tom's noble quali- 
ties spoke a blood and spirit far excelling his colleagues. 
The delight which the ambitious animal displayed in 
every feat of daring or activity, seemed only equal to 
his astonishing powers ; and it happened, occasion suf- 
ficing, before the Florida war was over, that he had 
won, like his master, laurels which will endure beyond 
the natural lives of the two friends — for Colonel May 
loves well his gallant steed, and in all things does him 
full justice. 

In Florida, Old Tom's amazing leaps and unflinch- 
ing spirit became notorious to officers and men. But 
one of his many achievements — the capture of Klng 
Philip — particularly deserves historical notice. 

The action of Dunlawton was still raging, and Old 
Tom's vigor and ardor for the fight had carried^ the 
gallant May ahead of his troop into the midst of the 
Seminoles, when their daring leader sprung forth, with 
upraised rifle, to oppose horse and rider. May ; s sabre 
quickly swept the air. but the agile Indian avoided the 



blow as the fiery charger passed on. Instantly, however, 
did " Old Tom" turn on his haunches (as his master has 
said, with all the spirit and purpose of his rider), and 
rearing high, plunged both his front hoofs into the breast 
of the Indian warrior, knocking him full ten feet (as is 
well avouched) senseless, and thenceforth a captive. 

Coa-co-chee, or Wild Cat, then became the " head 
devil" of the real " Seminoles" and swore vengeance 
on his father's captor. One of his attempts was as fol- 
lows : May, in the habit of riding alone from his near 
post to St. Augustine, was returning over the sandy 
road, unsuspicious of danger, one very dark night, when 
he and Old Tom found themselves suddenly among a 
drove of horses. May's pistol was instantly cocked, for 
he then knew that "Indians were about and he deter- 
mined to go ahead and get his men out of the fort. Old 
Tom made his way through, but the Indians did not fire, 
for fear of alarming the post. About half a mile from 
where they passed through the herd, was a wooden 
bridge which Old Tom always jumped; this, as usual, 
he did, when, a minutr after, a horse's hoof was heard in 
the black darkness of the night to touch the boards. 
May then knew he was followed, and instantly reined 
up. The treacherous horseman came on to meet the 
discharge of the pistol. The Indian appeared to fall 
from his horse and escape, as May rode into his post 
with the horse followir g. In the morning, the captured 
animal was found to have on him the trappings known 
to be Wild- Cat's — with a ball through his neck, and 
"the worse kind" of* a kick from Old Tom's heels. 

The theatre o : Old Tom's renown next shifts itself to 



Mexico, where he quickly won the admiration of the 
u rough and ready 99 riders of our army, and the profound 
respect of the enemy. At first, the Texans were in- 
clined to brag a little of their horses. On one such oc- 
casion, May, knowing there was nothing " Old Tom " 
would not " try," shouted to a mounted band — :i Xow fol- 
low me " — pointing at the same time to a ravine which 
no horse could possibly clear. Old Tom dashed on — but 
at the brink each Texan halted. His leap was unhesita- 
tingly made, and all thought, for the moment, that 
horse and rider had been dashed to atoms ; Old Tom, 
however, had fallen unhurt in the soft earth of the 

At Resaca de la Palma, in the charge which took 
General La Vega, Tom's courage shone gloriously. 
The Mexican guns were not only advantageously posted, 
but had a breastwork thrown up, with a ditch in front of 
it — in fact an actual battery. So soon as General Taylor 
perceived it, he rode up to May and told him he must 
take it at any cost ; and off he dashed at the head of the 
dragoons, going forward like a tornado. " Old Tom 93 
went steady at the enemy, all the time making tremen- 
dous leaps, as he bounded over ditch, breastwork, and 
every thing else that came in his way. In this charge, 
an escopette, or grape shot, struck Old Tom in the neck, 
and there it now remains : yet so steadily and unswerv- 
ingly did "lie go the pace 93 that it was not known till 
after the battle that he was wounded. Eighteen of the 
dragoons, among them the first lieutenant of May's 
troop, fell, or were dismounted by the fire of the battery, 
in this charge. The gallant Inge's fate has been much 



attributed to the want of that steadiness and vigor in his 
charger which distinguished " Old Tom" 

At Monterey, a spent grape shot keeled Old Tom 
over. May thought him dead — spoke to him in sorrow 
and in grief, but the old fellow in a few moments sprung 
up, shook himself heartily, and began to return his mas- 
ter's caresses as if " nothing to speak about " had occurred. 
All the "damage" was a. large welt on his flank — 
perhaps the first time Old Tom had been "out-flanked." 

This one of the heroes of all Taylor's battles in 
Mexico, fought his last fight at Buena Vista. He had 
been under the saddle for four days and nights, when on 
that bloody field this " creature of heroic blood " beg?,n 
to show a failing strength, which his devoted master and 
friend would not o'ertask. May had Old Tom withdrawn 
— -much against Old Tom's free consent ; and henceforth 
our hero is destined, by the interest and affection of his 
master, to pass down the vale of life through paths of 
peace and plenty. May they ever be strewn with 
flowers ! 


Dr. Linden, a Mexican physician, in' his report of 
his operations at the battle of Cerro Gordo, relates the 
following : 

" I continued attending to the various stages of the 
amputation, in the midst of balls and the cry of the enemy, 
and at last finished an operation which appeared to me 


to have lasted an age. The serenity and resignation of 
my companions in this crisis were admirable, and is 
above description. All remained around the patient, 
attending to the part of the operation which fell to their 
share, in the midst of the whistling of balls and the cries of 
death ; and when we rose, looking to Heaven with grati- 
tude for our salvation, as we thought, a new peril came 
to dismay us. A number of volunteers presented them- 
selves in front of our entry, and, seeing our uniform, 
cried — £ Death to the Mexican officers V and presented 
their guns to our breasts. I do not know what senti- 
ments inspired me in the resolution which I took, but I 
rushed to the muzzle of their rifles — I showed them my 
hand, dripping with blood, and, holding a piece of the 
mutilated leg, cried — c Respect humanity, or a hospital 
of blood — we are surgeons V My words produced a 
magic effect. In an instant, an officer, whose name I have 
since learned to be Pion, stepped between the volun- 
teers and ourselves, raised their guns with his sword, 
and these men, animated by victory, thirsting to avenge 
the loss of their general, mortally wounded, as I have 
since learned, became from that moment our friends — 
our protectors. 

" While these events were passing in my hut, which 
will never be erased from my memory, our firing had 
ceased ; the troops in the redoubts, finding themselves 
cut off from the public road, surrendered or capitulated ; 
those on the slope of the Cerro Gordo retired through the 
ravines, and the enemy remained master of all our posi- 
tions, and of an immense materiel. 

" The volunteers of the enemy commenced bringing 



in, without distinction, their own and our wounded, and 
we dressed their wounds according to the dictates of 
humanity and our instructions. We performed various 
amputations on some real giants, which succeeded in 
gaining their good will to such an extent that they re- 
fused us nothing that could be useful to us or our 

" Although two of their own surgeons had arrived, the 
body which I have the honor to command had the satis- 
faction that from their number was chosen one member 
to assist in some grave cases, even in that of General 
Shields, who had been traversed by a grape-shot." 

The Picayune says that Colonel Baker, who was on 
the spot in command of Shields' brigade, was a spectator 
of the scene described, and confirms its accuracy, but is 
unable to conjecture what officer is intended by Captain 
Pion, as there is no such name among the officers in that 
brigade or in the army. From various sources we hear 
praise of the professional skill of Dr. Vander Linden, 
and we think none, after reading the above report, will 
question the other admirable qualifications he possesses 
as an army surgeon. On the 21st, three days after the 
battle, the doctor went from Cerro Gordo to Jalapa, to 
solicit in person of the commanding general permission 
to move the wounded Mexicans thither. He, of course, 
received the permission asked for, and was to commence 
the removal the following morning. 


£1 e £ t c £ n SL a m e n t ♦ 


Air. — Roncesvalles. 

Rio Brayo ! Rio RraYO ! saw men ever such a sight 
Since the field of Roncesvalles sealed the fate of many a knight ? 
Dark is Palo Alto's story — sad Resaca Palma's rout, 
Ah me ! upon those fields so gory how many a gallant life went 

There our best and bravest lances, shivered 'gainst the Northern 

Left the valiant hearts that couch'd them 'neath the Northern 
charger's heel. 

Rio Bravo ! Rio Bravo ! brave hearts ne'er mourned such a sight. 
Since the noblest lost their life-blood in the Roncesvalles fight. 


There Arista, best and bravest— there Raguena, tried and true, 
On the fatal field thou lavest, nobly did all men could do ; 
Vainly there those heroes rally, Castile on Montezuma's shore, 
Vainly there shone Aztec valor brightly as it shone of yore. 
Rio Bravo ! Rio Bravo ! saw men ever such a sight 
Since the dews of Roncesvalles wept for Paladin and knight ? 


Heard ye not the wounded coursers shrieking on yon trampled 

As the Northern wing'd artillery thundered on our shattered 
ranks ? 



On they came — those Northern horsemen— -on like eagles to- 
ward the sun, 

Followed then the Northern bayonet, and the field was lost and 

Rio Bravo ! Rio Bravo ! minstrel ne'er sung such a fight, 
Since the lay of Roncesvalles sang the fame of martyred knight. 


Rio Bravo ! fatal river ! saw ye not while red with gore, 
One cavalier all headless quiver, a headless trunk upon thy 
shore ! 

Other champions not less noted, sleep beneath thy s ullen wave, 
Sullen water, thou has floated armies to an ocean grave. — 
Rio Bravo ! Rio Bravo ! lady ne'er wept such a sight, 
Since the moon of Roncesvalles kiss'd in death her own loved 


Weepest thou, lorn lady Inez, for thy lover 'mid the slain ? 
Brave La Vega's trenchant sabre cleft his slayer to the brain. 
Brave La Vega, who all lonely, by a host of foes beset, 
Yielded up his falchion only, when his equal there he met. 
Oh ! for Roland's horn to rally his Paladins by that sad shore ! 
Rio Bravo, Roncesvalles, ye are names linked ever more. 


Sullen river ! sullen river ! vultures drink thy gory wave, 
But they blur not those loved features, which not Love himself 
could save. 

Rio Bravo, thou wilt name not that lone corse upon thy shore, 
But in prayer sad Inez names him, names him praying ever- 

Rio Bravo ! Rio Bravo ! lady ne'er mourned such a knight, 
Since the fondest hearts were broken by the Roncesvalles fight 




Ose of the mo^t remarkable characters in Fremont's 
expedition is " Kit Carson. " lately made a lieutenant by 
the President. The following description of him. though 
rather long, we insert, because it not only gives a very 
satisfactory view of the expedition itself, but may be 
considered a type of each of the hardy adventurers who 
conducted it. 

" This singular man left Washington this morning, in 
company with Mrs. Fremont, for the West. On entering 
the War Office yesterday , Ave were asked : ; Have you 
seen Kit Carson ? He has this moment left my room ; 
and a singular and striking man he is ! Modest as he is 
brave, with the fire of enterprise in his eye — with the 
bearing of an Indian, walking even with his toes turned 
in — I wish you could have seen him.' We were so un- 
fortunate as to miss him, though our curiosity was greatly 
excited : but, in the course of two hours, a gentleman 
who had seen much of Carson, waited upon us and po- 
litely furnished us with the following description of this 
singular man. The portrait is admirably drawn, and it 
gives us great pleasure to lay it before our readers. It 
is the character of one of those bold and enterprising 
spirits of the West, whom the peculiar influences of the 
frontier settlements — between the white man and the red 
man — are so well calculated to produce. Carson, how- 
ever, is a master spirit, whose habits we like to under- 
stand, and whose adventures we delight to hear. 

" Kit Carson, within a few years, has become quite 



familiar to the public, mainly through his connection with 
the expeditions of Fremont, one of the best of those noble 
and original characters that have from time to time 
sprung up on and beyond our frontier, retreating with it to 
the West, and drawing from asociation with uncultivated 
nature, not the rudeness and sensualism of the savage, 
but genuine simplicity and truthfulness of disposition, 
and generosity, bravery, and single-heartedness, to a de- 
gree rarely found in society. Although Kit has only 
become known to the reading people of *' the States ' and 
of Europe through Fremont's reports, he was long ago 
famous in a world as extended, if not as populous ; fa- 
mous for excelling in all the qualities that life in the 
trackless and vast West requires and develops. He has 
been celebrated (though now aged only 37 years) as a 
hunter, trapper, guide or pilot of the prairies, and Indian 
fighter, uniting to the necessary characteristics of that 
adventurous and sturdy class, a kindness of heart and 
gentleness of manner that relieves it of an}" possible 
harshness or asperity. He is now in 6 the States/ having 
recently arrived with despatches from California : and I 
have taken the opportunity to extract from him a few in- 
cidents of his eventful life. He is worthy of an honora- 
able and more extended memoir ; and were his -advent ares 
fully written out, they would possess an interest equal to 
any personal narrative whatever. 

" Christopher Carson was born in Kentucky, in the 
year 1810, or 1811, his father having been one of the 
early settlers, and also a noted hunter and Indian fighter. 
In the year following Kit's birth, the family removed, for 
the sake of more elbow-room than the advancing popula- 



tion of Kentucky left them, to the territory of Missouri. 
On this frontier, bred to border life. Kit remained to the 
age of fifteen, when he joined a trading party to Santa 
Fe. This was his introduction to those vast plains that 
stretch beyond the state of Missouri. Instead of return- 
home, Kit found his way, by various adventures, south, 
through New Mexico, to the copper mines of Chihuahua, 
where he was employed some months as a teamster. 

" When about seventeen years old, he made his first 
expedition as a trapper. This was with a party which 
had been induced, by favorable accounts of fresh trap- 
ping grounds on the Rio Colorado of California, to an 
adventure thither ; so that Kit's first exploits were in the 
same remote and romantic region where, during the last 
year, he and all his comrades, with their commander, 
have earned imperishable honor. The enterprise was 
successful, and Kit relates many interesting anecdotes 
of the hardships of the wilderness, and of the encounters 
of his party with the Indians. The Mexican authorities 
and settlers in California were even at that time jealous 
of the Americans, and threatened to seize even this inof- 
fensive and roving party of beaver-catchers. They 
made good their return, however, to Taos, in New Mexi- 
co ; whence, soon after, Kit joined a trapping party to the 
head-waters of the Arkansas (likewise a region em- 
braced, since the last published expedition, in the surveys 
of Col. Fremont). Without recrossing the prairies, Kit 
went northward to the region of the Rocky Mountains 
that gives rise to the Missouri and Columbia rivers, and 
there remained near eight years, engaged in the then im- 
portant occupation of trapping. The great demand for 



the beaver, and the consequent high prices at that time 
paid for the peltries, gave an additional stimulus to the 
adventurous spirit of the young men of the West ; and 
drew nearly all who preferred the excitements and haz- 
ards of life in the wilderness to quieter pursuits, into the 
recesses of the Rocky Mountains. 

" Here a peculiar class was formed ; the elements, 
the sturdy, enterprising, and uncurbed character of the 
frontier ; the circumstances that influenced and formed 
it, nature in her wildest, roughest, and grandest aspects 
— savages, both as associates and foes, of every cast, 
from the wretched Root-diggers to the vindictive Black- 
feet, and the courageous and warlike Crows — -and a vo- 
cation of constant labor, privation, and peril in every 
shape, yet of gains of a nature and degree to give it 
somewhat of the characteristics of gambling.* The de- 
crease of the beaver before a pursuit of the poor animal 
so ruthless as was thus stimulated, and the substitution 
of other commodities for the beaver fur, have left trap- 
ping scarcely worth following as a vocation • and the race 
of trappers has nearly disappeared from the mountain 
gorges, where they built their rude lodges, where they 
set their traps for the wily beaver, and where were their 
frequent combats with the savages, and with wild beasts 

* Six dollars was the price paid to the trapper, at that time, for 
a beaver skin— and a good backwoodsman would secure from four 
to seven beavers of a night ; so that, notwithstanding the exorbitant 
charges of the companies for every necessary or luxury furnished 
to the trappers, (for example, twenty dollars for a blanket, two dol- 
lars for a tin-cup full of brown sugar, and the same for the same 
measure of coffee,) the trappers were still incited by the frequent 
receipt of such sums as gave additional zest and fascination to the 



not less formidable. In the school of men thus formed 
by hardship, exposure, peril, and temptation, our hero 
acquired all their virtues and escaped their vices. He 
became noted through the extent of the trapping-grounds, 
and on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, as a success- 
ful trapper, an unfailing shot, an unerring guide, and for 
bravery, sagacity, and steadiness in all circumstances. 
He was chosen to lead in almost all enterprises of un- 
usual danger, and in all attacks on the Indians. At one 
time, with a party of twelve, he tracked a band of near 
sixty Crows, who had stolen some of the horses belong- 
ing to the trappers, cut loose the animals, which were 
tied within ten feet of the strong fort of logs in which the 
Indians had taken shelter, attacked them, and made good 
his retreat with the recovered horses ; an Indian of an- 
other tribe, who was with the trappers, bringing away a 
Crow scalp as a trophy. In one combat with the Black- 
feet, Carson received a rifle-ball in his left shoulder, 
breaking it. Save this, he has escaped the manifold 
dangers to which he has been exposed, without serious 
bodily injury. Of course, in so turbulent and unre- 
strained a life, there were not unfrequent personal ren- 
counters among the trappers themselves, nor could the 
most peaceably-disposed always avoid them. These 
were most frequent and savage at the periods when the 
trappers went into the i rendezvous/ as were called 
the points where the companies kept their establishments 
for receiving the peltries and supplying the trappers. 
Here a few days of indulgence were commonly allowed 
himself by the trapper ; and there was much drinking, 
and gambling, and consequently fighting. Feuds grow- 



ing out of national feelings, would also naturally enough 
sometimes occur among the trappers — there being Cana- 
dians and Mexicans, as well as the Americans ; all 
having pride of race and country. On one occasion, a 
Frenchman, who ranked as a bully, and had whipped a 
good many Canadians, began to insult the Americans, 
saying they were only worth being whipped with 
switches. At this Carson fired up and said, ' He was 
the most trifling one among the Americans, and to begin 
with him. 5 After some little more talk, each went off 
and armed himself — Carson with a pistol, the French- 
man with a rifle— and both mounted for the fight. 
Riding up until their horses' heads touched, they fired 
almost at the same instant ; Carson a little the quickest, 
and his ball passing through the Frenchman's hand, 
made him jerk up his gun, and sent the ball which was 
intended for Carson's heart grazing by his left eye and 
singeing his hair. This is the only serious personal 
quarrel of Carson's life, as he is, like most very brave 
men, of a peaceable and gentle temper. 

" Colonel Fremont owed his good fortune in pro- 
curing Carson's services, to an accidental meeting on a 
steamboat above St. Louis — neither having ever before 
heard of the other. It was at the commencement of 
Fremont's first expedition. Carson continued with it, 
until, in its return, it had recrossed the mountains. His 
courage, fidelity, and excellent character, so far con- 
ciliated the good will of the commander, that in his 
second expedition, he gladly availed himself again of 
Kit's services, on meeting with him, as he chanced to 
do, on the confines of New Mexico. Kit again left the 



party after its arrival this side of the mountains — not, 
however, until Fremont had obtained a promise from 
him to join the third expedition, in case one should be 
organized. Some incidents will be interesting, con- 
nected with this latter expedition, which was interrupted 
in its purely scientific character, by the treachery of the 
Mexican chief (Castro) compelling Fremont to change 
his peaceful employment, and which, owing to the con- 
tinuance of the war with Mexico, is not yet completed. 

'•'In the interim between Fremont's second and third 
expeditions, Carson had settled himself near Taos, and 
had begun to farm, preparing to lead a quiet life, when 
he received a note from Fremont, written at Bent's Fort, 
reminding him of his promise, and telling him he would 
wait there for him. On this occasion Carson showed his 
strong friendship for his old commander, and the generous 
and unselfish nature of his feelings. In four days from 
receiving the note, Carson had joined the party, having 
sold house and farm for less than half the sum he had 
just expended upon it, and put his family under the pro- 
tection of his friend, the late Gov. Bent, until he should 
return from a certainly long and dangerous journey. 
This protection, unfortunately, was taken from them, in 
the late massacre at Taos, when Carson's brother-in-law 
was also one of the victims to the fury of the Mexicans, 
against all connected with the Americans. Mrs. Carson 
saved her life by flight, leaving them to rob the house of 
every thing. Kendall, and all others who have written 
of their adventures in New Mexico, ascribe the highest 
character to the women of that country for modesty, gen- 
erosity, quick sympathy, and all feminine virtues. To 



this amiable class belongs the wife of Carson, who has 
paid so dearly for her affection for him. 

" The route of the third expedition led the party to the 
southern and western side of the Great Salt Lake — a re- 
gion entirely unexplored, and filled, according to the su- 
perstitions and tales current among the Indians and trap- 
pers of the mountains, with all imaginable horrors. A 
vast desert, void of vegetation and fresh water, abounding 
in quicksands and in brackish pools and rivers, with only 
subterranean outlets. This was the reputed character 
of the country, justifying at least the apprehension of 
lack of those indispensables to the voyage ur of the wil- 
derness — water and grass. In truth, the southern border 
of the lake was found to be skirted with a salt plain of 
about sixty miles in width. Over this, as elsewhere, 
Carson, in his capacity of scout, was always with the ad- 
vance party, to search for water and convenient places 
for camp — the usual signal of the prairies, a fire, serving, 
by its column of smoke, to point out where the advance 
were halting. 

" The neighborhood of the Rio Colorado and the 
Sierra Nevado, of California, is infested with Indian tribes 
of Hippophagi, or Horse-Eaters (as they well may be call- 
ed), who keep the northern parts of California in alarm, by 
sweeping down into the settlements, and carrying off 
horses and mules, which they use for food. With these 
savages the expedition had several skirmishes ; but, owing 
to the perpetual vigilance which was exercised, neither 
man nor animals fell into the hands of the savages. 

"When Fremont's party, in May, 1846 (not knowing 
of the existence of the war with Mexico), retired from 



California, they proceeded north as far as the Tlamath 
lake, in Oregon, proposing to explore a new route into 
the Willhameth valley. 

" A courier having overtaken Col. Fremont there, to 
say that Mr. Gillespie and five men were endeavoring to 
overtake him, he took ten men and returned sixty miles 
with the courier ; making all haste, in order to reach 
them before night, and prevent any attack which the In- 
dians might be tempted to make on a small party. 
These Tlamath Indians, by nature brave and warlike, 
have now a new source of power in the iron arrow-heads 
and axes furnished them by the British posts in that 
country. Their arrows can only be extracted from the 
flesh by the knife, as they are barbed, and of course are 
not to be drawn out. The events of that night and the 
days following illustrate so fully the nightly danger of an 
Indian country, and the treacherous nature of savages, 
that I will give them, and in Carson's own words : — 

" £ Mr. Gillespie had brought the Colonel letters from 
home — the first he had had since leaving the States the 
year before — and he was up, and kept a large fire burn- 
ing until after midnight ; the rest of us were tired out, 
and all went to sleep. This was the only night in all 
our travels, except the one night on the island in the Salt 
Lake, that we failed to keep guard ; and as the men 
were so tired, and we expected no attack now that we 
had sixteen in the party, the Colonel didn't like to ask it 
of them, but sat up late himself. Owens and I were 
sleeping together, and we were waked at the same time 
by the licks of the axe that killed our men. At first, I 
didn't know it was that ; but I called to Basil, who was 



that side — 1 What "s the matter there ? — what s that fuss 
about ? ' — he never answered, for he was dead then, poor 
fellow, and he never knew what killed him — his head 
had been cut in, in his sleep ; the other groaned a little as 
he died. The Delawares (we had four with us) were 
sleeping at that fire, and they sprang up as the Tlarnaths 
charged them. One of them caught up a gun. which 
was unloaded ; but, although he could do no execution, 
he kept them at bay, fighting like a soldier, and didn't 
give up until he was shot full of arrows — three entering 
his heart : he died bravely. As soon as I had called out, 
I saw it was Indians in the camp, and I and Owens to- 
gether cried out 'Indians.' There were no orders given ; 
things went on too fast, and the Colonel had men with 
him that didn't need to be told their duty. The Colonel 
and I, Maxwell, Owens, Godey. and Stepp. jumped to- 
gether, we six, and ran to the assistance of our Dela- 
wares. I don't know who fired and who didn't : but I 
think it was Stepp's shot that killed the Tlamath chief ; 
for it was at the crack of Stepp 's gun that he fell. He 
had an English half axe slung to his wrist by a cord, 
and there were forty arrows left in his quiver — the most 
beautiful and warlike arrows I ever saw. He must have 
been the bravest man among them, from the way he was 
armed, and judging by his cap. When the Tlarnaths 
saw him fall, they ran : but we lay. every man with his 
rifle cocked, until daylight, expecting another attack. 

" • In the morning we found by the tracks that from 
fifteen to twenty of the Tlarnaths had attacked us. They 
had killed three of our men. and wounded one of the 
Delawares, who scalped the chief, whom we left where 



he fell. Our dead men we carried on mules ; but, after 
going about ten miles, we found it impossible to get them 
any farther through the thick timber, and, finding, a se- 
cret place, we buried them under logs and chunks, hav- 
ing no way to dig a grave. It was only a fews days 
before this fight that some of these same Indians had 
come into our camp ; and, although we had only meat 
for two days, and felt sure that we should have to eat 
mules for ten or fifteen days to come, the Colonel divided 
with them, and even had a mule unpacked to give them 
some tobacco and knives.' 

" The party then retraced its way into California, 
and two days after this rencontre they met a large village 
of Tlamaths — more than a hundred warriors. Carson 
was ahead with ten men, but one of them having been 
discovered, he could not follow his orders, which were to 
send back word and let Fremont come up with the rest 
in case they found Indians. But as they had been seen, 
it only remained to charge the village, which they did, 
killing many, and putting the rest to flight. The women 
and children, Carson says, we didn't interfere with ; but 
they burnt the village, together with their canoes and 
fishing nets. In a subsequent encounter, the same day, 
Carson's life was imminently exposed. As they gal- 
lopped up, he was rather in advance, when he observed 
an Indian fixing his arrow to let fly at him. Carson 
levelled his rifle, but it snapped, and in an instant the 
arrow would have pierced him, had not Fremont, seeing 
the danger, dashed his horse on the Indian and knocked 
him down. I owe my life to them two, says Carson — 
the Colonel and Sacramento saved me. Sacramento is 



a noble Californian horse which Captain Sutter gave to 
Colonel Fremont, in 1844. and which has twice made the 
distance between Kentucky and his native valley, where 
he earned his name by swimming the river after which 
he is called, at the close of a long day's journey. Not- 
withstanding all his hardships, for he has travelled every 
where with his master, he is still the favorite horse of 
Colonel Fremont. 

" The hostile and insulting course of Castro drew 
Fremont into retaliatory measures ; and, aided by the 
American settlers, he pursued the Mexicans for some 
time ; but, being unable to make them stand and fight, 
they always flying before him, the flag of independence 
was raised at Sonoma, on the 5th of July, 1846. Learn- 
ing soon after of the existence of the war, the American 
flag was promptly substituted, and the party proceeded 
to Monterey, where they found the fleet under Commo- 
dore Sloat already in possession. Castro, with his forces, 
had retreated before Fremont, and, to prevent their es- 
cape into Sonora, Colonel Fremont with a hundred and 
sixty men, were offered the sloop of war Cyane to carry 
them down to San Diego and facilitate the pursuit, as he 
hoped by that means to intercept Castro at Pueblo de los 
Andelos. Then Carson, for the first time, saw the blue 
ocean, and the great vessels that, like white-winged 
birds, spread their sails above its waters. The vast 
prairies, whose immense green surface has been aptly 
likened to the sea, together with all objects ever seen 
upon it, were familiar to him ; but it proved no prepara- 
tion for actual salt water, and the pride and strength of 
the backwoodsmen were soon humbled by the customary 



tribute to Neptune. The forces were landed, and raised 
the flag at San Diego, and then they proceeded jointly to 
the capital, Ciudad de los Angeles, where, although from 
the detention at sea, Castro had escaped, American au- 
thority was also established. 

" From this point on the 1st of September, 1846, Car- 
son, with fifteen men, was despatched by Fremont with 
an account of the progress and state of affairs in that dis- 
tant conquest. Carson was to have made the journey 
from Puebla to Washington city and back in 140 days. 
He pushed ahead accordingly, not stopping even for 
game, but subsisting on his mules, of which they made 
food as the animals broke down in the rapidity of the 
journey. He had crossed the wilderness, as he expect- 
ed, in thirty days, when, meeting with Gen. Kearney's 
company, within a few days of Santa Fe, he was turned 
back by that officer, to whose orders he believed himself 
subject, and with infinite reluctance resigned his de- 
spatches to another, and returned to guide Kearney's com- 
mand into California. 

" General Kearney entered California without molesta- 
tion until the fight of San Pasqual ; an official account 
of which has been published. In the charge made upon 
the Mexicans, Carson, as usual, was among the foremost, 
when, as he approached within bullet range of the enemy, 
who were drawn up in order of battle, his horse stumbled 
and fell, pitching him over his head, and breaking his 
rifle in twain. Seizing a knife, he advanced on foot, un- 
til he found a killed dragoon, whose rifle he took, and 
was pressing on, when he met the mounted men returning 
from the charge, the Mexicans having galloped off. At 



the instance of Carson, the American party then took 
possession of a small rocky hill, near the scene of the 
battle, as the strongest position in reach. Not being in a 
situation to go forward, they encamped here ; and the 
enemy collecting in force, they remained in a state of 
siege. There was little of grass or water, on the hill, 
and soon both animals and men began to suffer. The 
way was so thickly beset with the enemy, that the com- 
mander doubted the propriety of attempting to cut a pas- 
sage through, when after a four days' siege, Carson and 
Passed Midshipman Beale, of the navy (who had been 
sent to meet Kearney, with some thirty men, as a compli- 
mentary escort to San Diego), volunteered to go to Cap- 
tain Stockton, at that place, and brkig a reinforcement. 

" This daring enterprise these intrepid and resolute 
young men, accompanied by a Delaware Indian, who 
was attached as a spy to General Kearney's command, 
successfully accomplished, but not without extreme suf- 
fering and peril. The distance between the camp and 
San Diego was but thirty miles ; but as they had to 
make long detours, they travelled nearer fifty. They 
left the camp in the night of the 9th of December, crawl- 
ing in a horizontal position through the enemy's lines. 
Their shoes made some noise, for which cause they took 
them off, and during the night, unfortunately lost them. 
Lying by all day to avoid the enemy, they succeeded by 
the end of the second night in reaching their destination, 
and procuring the necessary reinforcement. Their feet 
and flesh torn and bleeding from the rocks and thorny 
shrubs, haggard from hunger, thirst, anxiety and sleep- 
lessness/ they were again, nevertheless, in full per- 


formance of duty at the battles of the 8th and 9th of 

" When Fremont, after meeting with, and accepting 
the surrender of the Mexican forces, reached Los An- 
geles, Carson immediately returned to his command, and 
in the ensuing month was again selected to cross the 
desert, the wilderness, the mountains, and the prairies, to 
bring news of those far-off operations of its agents to the 
government in Washington. Leaving the frontier settle- 
ments of California, on the 25th of February, Carson 
arrived in St. Louis, about the middle of May — making 
the journey, notwithstanding the inclemency of the sea- 
son, and an unavoidable detention of ten days at Santa 
Fe, in a shorter time than it was ever before accomplish- 
ed. The unsettled state of the country — the war with 
Mexico inciting the savage tribes to unusual license and 
daring — added much to the inevitable hazard and priva- 
tions of the journey, rendering the most unceasing vigil- 
ance necessary, night and day ; while the speed with 
which the party travelled debarred them from the usual 
resource of travellers in uninhabited regions ; they were 
fain to resort to the unsavory subsistence of those Hip- 
pophagi of the Sierra Nevada ; only converting the poor 
beasts to food, however, when they were travel-worn and 

" Fortunately, the journey was made in its extent with- 
out serious mishap, and Carson, with Lieutenant Beale, 
his comrade in the night-march to San Diego, and Lieu- 
tenant Talbot, the young gentleman who led the gallant 
retreat of the little party of ten through the enemy's 
midst, a distance of three hundred miles from Santa Bar- 
bara to Monterey, are all now in Washington. 



" Since Carson's arrival, solely through the apprecia- 
tion by the President of his merit and services, he has 
received a commission of lieutenant in the rifle regiment 
of which Mr. Fremont is the lieutenant-colonel. The 
appointment was unsolicited and unexpected — the sug- 
gestion entirely of the President's own recognition of the 
deserts of this man of the prairies — a fact that is most 
honorable to the Executive, and makes the favor the more 
gratifying to the friends of Carson." 


Vera Cruz is noted for its strong castle, its architec- 
tural beauty, the unhealthiness of its climate, and for 
the various sieges it has sustained. The first thing visi- 
ble in Mexico, upon approaching the city from the sea, 
is the Peak of Orizaba, which, by an optical illusion, 
often appears transplanted above the clouds, and even 
intervening between the sun and the spectator. As the 
stately domes, towers, and battlements one by one heave 
in sight, guarded by the old grim castle of San Juan 
de Ulloa, the view is grand and pleasing. Perhaps the 
first idea that strikes the beholder, when within a proper 
distance of the city, is the thought of its immense 

The streets are mostly wide, straight, and well 
paved, though generally in a very filthy condition. The 
stones are laid out in squares, and present a handsome 
appearance. The houses are mostly two "stories in 



height, though some are three, and built of a species of 
white stone or coral, taken from the beach. The archi- 
tecture is of the Moorish style, and many of the build- 
ings are adorned with every variety of ornament which 
use or fancy can devise. To an American all this 
seems strange and subduing, and it requires little effort 
to imagine himself in one of the fairy-towns of Spanish 
legends. On a still evening, when the moon is lighting 
up the antiquated piles, this feeling is irresistible ; and 
the eye hangs with a thrilling sensation upon the bal- 
conied windows to catch a glance of some lovely being, 
appearing to chant a dirge of 

" Love, and adventures bold," 

and broken hopes and hearts, and the tragedies of the 
cloister, and her own dark sorrowful love-dream, and all 
the other minutiae of romance. 

The public buildings of Vera Cruz are numerous, 
and several of them elegant. Two of the most remark- 
able are the principal church or cathedral, a beautiful 
structure ; and the convent of St. Augustine, noted for 
the massive strength of its walls. There are nine 
towers upon the fortifications, connected by means of a 
stone wall, the two largest of which are so placed as en- 
tirely to command the port. These towers can mount 
one hundred guns, and their fires cross each other in 
front of the guard-houses. 

Unlike most Mexican cities, the dwellings of Vera 
Cruz are destitute of gardens ; and this circumstance 
may contribute, in some measure, to its unhealthiness. 
This is particularly unfortunate in the dry seasons, 




when not even a field of grass refreshes the sultry at- 
mosphere. Were this addition made to the luxuries of 
the city, Vera Cruz might be one of the handsomest 
places in Mexico. The surrounding country produces 
almost every thing in the way of eatables required by 
the inhabitants. The woods abound in game ; the fields 
in grain, vegetables, and tropical fruits ; and the savan- 
nas, or plains, with cattle. Varieties of fish are found 
in the rivers and large lakes ; while the more elevated 
and temperate regions produce all the fruits and vege- 
tables natural to the northern climates. In addition to 
this the city is well supplied with the luxuries of other 
countries, by numerous vessels from Europe and the 
United States, which bring to her port the various wines, 
liquors, and delicacies, which the most refined epicure 
can desire. 

Many changes have taken place in the site of the 
city since its first erection, owing in a great degree to 
the ravages made among the first colonists by the yellow 
fever or vomita. Unfortunately, the modern site does 
not at all remedy the evil ; for in addition to the insa- 
lubrious nature of its warm and moist climate, other 
causes, equally unfavorable to health, are continually in 
operation. Among these may be mentioned the nu- 
merous ponds and marshes in the vicinity, whose exha- 
lations poison the atmosphere, and the reflected heat 
from the sandy plains, which often raises the tempera- 
ture to an extraordinary height. Added to these, is the 
bad quality of the water, and the abundance of that tor- 
menting kind of musquito, called the tancudo, whose 
bite alone causes great irritation of the system, 



All these causes operating together, give rise to va- 
rious affections, the most common of which are, to the 
acclimated, serious tertian fevers ; while the stranger is 
doomed to attacks of the terrible vomita, the very name 
of which is now sufficient to terrify the most enthusiastic 
adventurer. Years of careful observation and expe- 
rience, have served to show all that can be done towards 
curing this awful disease ; and these have been so far 
successful, that within a few years its ravages have not 
been so great as formerly. The two following facts 
have likewise been ascertained respecting it — first, that 
foreigners who have once become acclimated, and then 
continue in the city, enjoy better health than do the 
natives ; and second, that although the climate is so un- 
healthy and fatal during those periods of the year when 
great heat and heavy rains prevail, yet as soon as the 
north winds (which commence in October and terminate 
in April) blow sufficiently strong to remove the mias- 
matic exhalations and musquitoes, and to cool the atmo- 
sphere, then it becomes much more healthy than the 
climate of many places in the interior. 

Notwithstanding these facts, however, Vera Cruz 
must be regarded as one of the most unhealthy cities in 
America ; and annually hundreds of foreigners, who are 
drawn thither by curiosity or prospects of wealth, meet 
with one visitor who blasts all their fond expectations, 
and assigns them a place among others who are swelling 
the tombs of this modern Golgotha. 

The distinguished feature of Vera Cruz is its castle — 
the most celebrated of all American fortresses. It was 
commenced in 1582, upon a bar or bank in front of the 



city, at the distance of 1062 varas or yards from it. and 
is entirely surrounded by water. The centre of the area 
occupied by this fortress is a small island, upon which 
Juan de Grijalva landed a year previous to the arrival 
of Cortez upon our continent, at which period it acci- 
dentally received the name that it still retains. There 
was a shrine erected upon it at that time, on which hu- 
man victims were sacrificed to the Indian gods ; and as 
the Spaniards were informed that these offerings were 
made in accordance with the commands of the kings of 
Acolhua, one of the provinces of the empire, they con- 
founded or abbreviated this name into the word Ulloa, 
which they affixed to the island. 

The whole fortress is constructed of madrepora astrea, 
a soft coral which abounds in the neighboring islands, 
and its walls are from four to five yards in thickness, 
their exterior being faced with a harder stone. The ex- 
terior polygon, which faces Vera Cruz, extends three 
hundred yards in length, whilst that which defends the 
north channel is two hundred yards. Besides this there 
is a low battery situated in the bastion of Santiago, which 
doubles the fire on that channel, and the southern chan- 
nel is also commanded by the battery of San Miguel. 
The madrepora is white, soft, and porous ; so that a ball 
striking it, instead of splitting or demolishing the wall, 
would quietly imbed itself, with scarcely any damage. 
The cost of the castle has been estimated by various 
writers to have amounted to forty millions of dollars ; 
and this may be regarded as no exaggeration, if we con* 
sider the difficulty of obtaining some of the materials of 
which it is composed, and the fact that a large portion 


of it is built on foundations laid in the sea, whose waves 
it has resisted for more than two centuries. 

The city and castle have sustained several sieges, 
and the former was at one time sacked by a horde of 
pirates under Lorenallo. Both are however strong by 
nature and art ; and with an American or English gar- 
rison, and ample supplies of provisions and ammunition, 
they could resist the siege or assault of the most nume- 
rous navy that ever entered the Gulf. 


The 24th of March was as beautiful a day as had 
ever shone in the soft climate of Mexico. A previous 
norther had rendered the atmosphere cool and salubrious ; 
and the waters of the great Gulf were as smooth and 
glassy as the surface of a lake. Toward evening the sun 
beamed with a mild and softened flow, lighting up the 
few fantastic clouds with vivid colorings, and capping 
the gray distant mountains with golden splendor. But 
the beautiful prospect was unheeded by the armed thou- 
sands, who all that day had been preparing for the terri- 
ble encounter. Occasionally a dull sound would roll 
from the castle, and echo amid the mountains like the 
breakings of thunder ; and then a headlong plunge 
would mark the falling of the ball ; but among the Ame- 
ricans all was silent, save the hum of busy preparation. 

As afternoon wore on, the excitement on board the 


fleet became intense. Crowds thronged the decks and 
masts of the different vessels, until every spar, and every 
bow, and every rope was dense with life, each watching, 
with suppressed breathing, the arrangements of General 
Scott. At four o'clock, a loud roar from the beach told 
that the thrilling drama had opened ; and in a few mi- 
nutes thick vollies of heavy shell were raining into Vera 
Cruz, tearing and crushing their way through roofs, 
walls, and barricades. The stern castle answered with 
her heavy guns, and poured forth shot after shot in 
haughty defiance, until the space between the batteries 
seemed like a pathway of liquid fire. Time wore on, 
the sun reached the western horizon, and his last 
dim ray seemed to linger in sadness over the furious 
maddenings of the sons of earth. But the combatants 
knew no pause ; and as the shades of evening gathered 
darker around, they only served to render still more stir- 
ring the work of death. 

The night bombardment was a scene grand even to 
sublimity. The volumes of smoke had concentrated into 
one dense mass, which hung over the Americans like a 
cloud. At every moment its sides would be broken, and 
a fiery ball leap out, with a noise that shook every sur- 
rounding object, and after sparkling along its meteor-like 
track, would light among the houses and battlements of 
the city. Then would be heard the loud explosion, the 
crashing of houses, and the fall of wails and roofing, in 
the echoing streets. The batteries, forts, and mortars of 
both armies vomited forth unceasing discharges of fire, 
and the balls, as they crossed and re-crossed each other 
in long fiery streams along the dark sky-ground, pre- 


sented a " sight unknown to quiet life." But there were 
feelings connected with that scene more powerful than 
even its sublimity. Crowds of helpless individuals were 
congregated in the houses, trembling at the horrors from 
which it was impossible to escape ; and often a heavy 
bomb would bear on through roof and walls, alight in 
die middle of a company, and explode, throwing arms, 
and legs, and mangled bodies against the surrounding 
buildings. Women and children, the young and the 
decrepit, were equally exposed with the soldier ; — no 
place was exempt from death. 

In the morning a naval battery was opened by Com- 
modore Perry, and the bombardment became more severe 
than ever. It was answered by four Mexican batteries, 
whose precision of shot was the theme of universal admi- 
ration. In the course of this day the walls and fortifica- 
tions of the city began to crumble, and a large part of 
their buildings was in ruins. On the 27th the distress 
was so great that terms of capitulation were offered, and 
the city finally surrendered. The scene within the walls 
was distressing ; churches and hospitals were crowded 
with the wounded and dying ; mangled corpses were 
lying in the streets ; and along the lanes, and within 
ditches, were mutilated beings, stretched on dead com- 
rades, half suffocated with dust and blood, and moaning 
for water. The proud spirit of the citizens had been 
humbled by danger and suffering ; and after the capture 
many could be seen timidly watching from their windows 
the march of the American troops. In the second day 
of the bombardment many were without bread or meat, 
and reduced to a ration of beans, eaten at midnight by the 



fire issuing from showers of projectiles. By this time all 
the buildings from La Merced to the Parraquia were 
reduced to ashes, and the impassable streets filled with 
stones, ruins, and projectiles. The citizens had progres- 
sively removed to a side where, up to this time, less de- 
struction had happened, taking shelter in the streets and 
entries in such numbers that there was only room to 
stand. But the third day the enemy alternately scatter- 
ed their shot, and every spot became a place of clanger. 
Who can tell the amount of suffering experienced by the 
desolate families, who, without hope, sleep, or food, were 
solely engaged in preserving their lives ? Most of those 
whose houses had been destroyed had lost every thing — 
all the property remaining to them was the clothes on 
them ; and hundreds of persons who before relied upon 
certain incomes, now found themselves without a bed to 
lie upon, without covering or clothing to shelter them, 
and without any victuals. 

Such was the bombardment and capture of Vera Cruz, 
by the American army. It was a sight splendid to the 
eye ; but to the heart it told tales of woe, of trial, and 
anguish, more deeply thrilling than could be eradicated 
by all the false and cruel pomp of war. 




The field in front of the city was covered with bombs, 
cannon, piles of balls, and other implements of war, 
which, with the ridges ploughed into the ground by the 
shot, bore evidence of the fearful work which had just 
been completed. It was a glad, sunny day, and long 
columns of troops were moving over the plain in all. di- 
rections, while the heart swelled with the rolling of drums, 
the galloping of cavalry, and the stirring strains of music. 
Young bosoms, warm with the flushings of their first 
victory, were gazing upon the scene with thrilling plea- 
sure ; while their veteran companions felt young again, 
as they caught the general enthusiasm. The beauty of 
the day, the cool refreshing breezes, and the dashings of 
the vast inland sea, as it rose and fell in multiplied heav- 
ings, were unnoticed ; one absorbing idea — the pomp and 
circumstance of war — banished every other. 

At length the Americans arranged themselves in two 
lines, forming a hollow square, through which the con- 
quered army were to pass. The music now ceased, 
and a stillness gathered around the crowding soldiers. 
That pause was long and deep, for bitter remembrances 
of home, and earlier, happier hours, were binding the 
weeping exiles to their city. They had lavished their 
wealth and their blood to render it invincible, and fondly 
entitled it heroic : but their walls had been battered 
down, their dwellings ruined, and now they were 
called to leave friend and fortune, and seek a resting 
place in the distant wilderness. Can we wonder that 


their tarrying was long — that they bathed to lower their 
flag, in mournful degradation, from the towers of the 
castle ? 

At length strains of low. sad music came floating on 
the air. and their columns were seen emerging from the 
gate in good order, and approaching the American for- 
ces. Their faces told the tale of their sufferings — pale, 
haggard, and emaciated, they moved with eyes on the 
ground to avoid the saze of the victors. Women and 
children followed them : the young, the old. and the 
maimed, bending beneath trunks, which contained all 
their worldly possessions. Mothers were there, thinking 
of the sons, sisters of the brothers, and wives of the 
partners whom they left behind : and as the dying moans 
seemed still to echo in their ears, they forgot national pride 
in the stronger impulses of humanity, and poured forth a 
flood of uncontrollable sorrow. Many a stern heart that 
had rioted amid the thunderings of the bombardment was 
now crushed and broken : and even their enemies gazed 
upon them with genuine pity. Thousands of men laid 
down their arms that day. and marched with their fami- 
lies to suffer or perish in the interior. 


Did you ever see a collection of men that could not 
turn out a specimen of what is generally termed " a 
character V' If you ever did. you can. to make use of a 



vulgarism, " beat my time*' considerably, for I never did, 
and what is more, never expect to. The next door to 
my quarters a company of Virginia volunteers are sta- 
tioned, and as they turn out to roll-call and drill I have 
a good opportunity of observing them. I had noticed 
among the men a short thick-set Irishman, whose head 
seemed to have settled down between his shoulders a 
trifle too far to permit him to sit as a model for a sculptor, 
although he will answer very well for a soldier. There 
was something so odd about his appearance and his man- 
ner of performing the manual, that I was convinced he 
was " a character, " and upon expressing my belief of 
that fact, I discovered that I was not far wrong, the fol- 
lowing anecdote being related of him :- — 

" Plaze, sir, 5 ' said the soldier, touching his hat to his 
captain, " whin will we be paid off. sir ?" " In a few 
dayjs, Patrick/*" replied the officer. " Yis, sir/"' contin- 
ued Pat, " and whin, sir, will we be after Santy Anny, 
the blackguard ?" " That's more than I can tell you, 
Patrick ; it's rather hard to tell, when or where he will 
show himself,"' replied the officer. " Yis, sir, thank you 
kindly, sir, we'll be paid off in a few days, any ways, 
however," said Pat, as he touched his hat again and re- 
tired. In a few days he appeared again, and opened the 
conversation with — " If ye plaze, sir, devil the copper 
have we been paid yet, sir !" " I know it, Patrick," was 
the reply of the officer, but I can't help it ; they are 
waiting for the paymaster to arrive." " Oh. it's the pay- 
masther we're a waiting for, is it ? and what the divil's 
the excuse he has for not bein' here when he's wanted ? 
What's the use of havin' a paymaster if he isn't on the 



spot when he's wanted V' said Pat. beginning to wax in- 
dignant at having to wait so long for his "tin.'" 

The circumstance caused him much uneasiness, and 
after cogitating the ma 1 „er over and over, he was struck 
with a luminous idea, and announced to his com- 
rades that he'd have his money before you could say 
" thread on my coat." One morning, immediately after 
breakfast, off posted Pat to General Taylor's camp, and, 
approaching his tent, inquired of a soldier standing by, 
where the General's " shanty " was. " That 's his tent,'" 
said the sentinel, pointing out the General's quarters. 
'•'And is that the Gineral's tent?" said Pat. taking off 
his hat and rubbing hand over hair, which had been cut 
to the degree of shortness peculiar to natives of Erin's 
green isle. "'And where ; s the Gineral's old gray 
horse V inquired Pat. " There.'" replied the soldier, 
indicating the spot where the old horse stood, lazily 
whisking the flies away with his tail. " And is that the 
old horse?" again inquired the sprig of Erin, with great 
awe ; " an* where, if you plaze. sir. is the old gintleman 
himself V 7 continued Pat. "'There he sits, under that 
awning.''' answered the soldier. - What,' 7 exclaimed 
Pat. almost in a whisper, and in a tone amounting to rev- 
erence. - an'' is that the old gintleman ?" " Yes."' said 
the soldier, walking away, "that's General Taylor." 
After gazing at the "'war-worn veteran." in silent admi- 
ration, for a while, he at last mustered sufficient courage 
to approach him. "I beg your pardon. Gineral. but 
you'll plaze to excuse the bit of liberty I'm taking in 
presuming to call on your honor, but. if you plaze. sir, I 
come on a little matther of business, bein' as I thought 



you might be afther helpin' us out of a little bit of a 

" Well," said the General kindly, " what is the trou- 
ble, and what do you wish ?" 

" If you plaze, sir, Fd like to know when the hands 
will be paid off, sir ?" 

"When the hands will be paid off? " repeated the 
General, a little puzzled. 

" Yis, sir, if ye plaze to have the goodness. The 
hands have had divil a cint of wages since they've been 
in the country." 

" Oh ! I understand, you're a volunteer, and wish to 
know when you'll be paid off. Well, my good fellow, 
you must apply to your company officers for that informa- 
tion, I have nothing to do with it." 

" Beggin' your pardon, sir, I did ax the boss about it, 
but he didn't give me no sort of satisfaction about it, and 
so I told the other hands I'd fix it ; and bein' as you're the 
head boss, I thought I'd be coming over here to see if you 
couldn't give us some satisfaction." 

The " head boss " being unable to relieve the anxiety 
of Pat, the latter retired to the " other hands," having 
the satisfaction of saying that although he had failed in the 
object of his mission, he had seen the " head boss," his 
" shanty," and "the old gray horse," w T hich was "glory 
enough for one day." — New Orleans Delta, 




Win field Scott, the commander-iii-chief of the 
American army, was bom in Virginia, on the 13th of 
June, 1786. His early life was devoted to study, and 
he passed with honor through the High School of Rich- 
mond, and William and Mary College. After leaving 
the latter institution he studied law, and gave promise 
of becoming an eminent barrister. 

During the difficulties with Great Britain, young 
Scott entered the service of the army, and was commis- 
sioned as a captain of light artillery on the 3d of May, 
1805. Here his abilities as a disciplinarian, and his ex- 
cellent general conduct, brought him into favorable no- 
tice, and he received a lieutenancy in July, 1812. In 
October of the same year, he assisted Lieutenant Elliot 
in delivering two vessels from the guns of Fort Erie ; 
and afterwards defended them against the efforts of the 
British for a recapture. He was made colonel the same 

At the battle of Queenston Heights Scott was con- 
spicuous for his bravery, coolness, and efficiency. He 
did not cross the river until the heights w T ere carried, 
when he arrived as a volunteer ; but Colonel Van Rens- 
selaer having been wounded, Scott was requested by 
General Wadsworth to take charge of the colonel's com- 
mand. Meanwhile the British had been reinforced by 
detachments of Indians and regulars from Fort George, 
and a fierce struggle with Scott's command now com- 
menced. Colonel Chrystie coming over to the Canada 



side, took the command ; the main body of the British 
reinforcements, 850 strong, under General Sheaffe, ar- 
rived, and the American militia could not be got across 
the river : so that a force of only 300 Americans was 
left at the mercy of some 1300 British and Indians, 
They fought, however, furiously, and it was only after 
several hours" hard exertion that the enemy obliged them 
to surrender. The prisoners, including Scott, were taken 
to Quebec, but subsequently exchanged, and sent to 

Early in the following May, Scott was appointed as 
adjutant-general, and joined the army of General Dear- 
born near Niagara. These troops had lately been rein- 
forced by those who had captured York, and were now 
busily engaged in preparations for an attack on Fort 
George. Batteries were stationed in every effective po- 
sition, strong fortifications established between them, and 
boats constructed for the transportation of troops. The 
British were equally busy on the opposite shore : but al- 
though numerous opportunities were afforded each party 
to harass the other, a noble and unusual magnanimity 
peiwaded both ; and the two nations seemed to vie with 
each other in this forbearance. A slight incident inter- 
rupted this voluntary truce. A few boats had been con- 
structed above the torts, and in sailing down the river 
boldly ran within blank range of the British guns, where 
they remained for some time, as if in defiance. The en- 
emy soon opened upon these with a scattering and inef- 
fectual fire, which did no execution : but their first report 
was the signal for the renewal of hostilities. One shot, 
another and another, burst from the American lines, until, 

184 1 


notwithstanding the efforts of the commander, the whole 
fort was in an incessant roar of artillery. All night, 
shells and red-hot shot poured into the devoted works of 
the enemy, until, catching fire, the flames swept along 
all their intrenchments, devouring the labors of weeks, 
and driving the troops from their posts. At daybreak 
the British fort was a mass of smouldering ruins. 

The prematurity of this attack diminished the grati- 
fication of the Americans, as their troops could not then 
take advantage of the panic and confusion into which the 
enemy had been thrown. Accordingly, the latter had 
time to recover from the loss, and reconstruct his fortifi- 

The Americans continued to labor upon their works 
with such assiduity that on the 26th of May they were 
able to embark for the opposite shore. The embarka- 
tion took place at sunrise, all the troops crossing in small 
boats, many of which passed within reach of the enemy's 
batteries. The advance, consisting of five full compa- 
nies, and fragments of others, in all about 600 men, was 
led by Colonel Scott, whose movements were hidden from 
the enemy by a dense fog, that hung over the river until 
late in the morning. The river or strait of Niagara, 
forms a semicircle of a mile in extent, with the opening 
toward Canada. The British station of Fort George, is 
on the Canada side, about three-quarters of a mile from 
the lake, surrounded by a large level plain. The shores 
of the lake are steep and rocky, and surmounted by a 
large dense forest. In this forest the British had con- 
cealed themselves, mostly stretched upon the ground, and 
ready at the first signal to oppose the landing of the 



Early in the morning all the guns commenced play- 
ing upon the British works, and some artillery and dra- 
goons under Colonel Burn, marched up the shore, and 
made a feint against the Queenston road, in order to di- 
vert the attention of the enemy from the main attack. 
The British, however, remained perfectly quiet, until 
Col. Scott's command were within reach of their small- 
arms. Suddenly they then rose from their ambuscade, 
and poured toward the advancing boats thick volleys of 
musketry, which, however, were so ill directed as to pro- 
duce little effect. As soon as the boats touched the shore 
the advance formed, and rushed up the steep in the very 
face of a heavy fire from a vastly superior enemy. They 
were unable to gain the height, although such was their 
ardor, that in ten minutes they made three separate at- 
tempts to do so. At the end of that time, they were 
reinforced, and succeeded in mounting the shore, on the 
ledge of which they formed and commenced the battle in 
good earnest. The skirmish which ensued was obstinate, 
but the enemy were finally driven from their position, 
and retired toward Newark village, near Fort George. 
At the same moment the boats of the second brigade 
reached the shore. The Americans then concentrated 
their whole force on the plain, and formed in line to 
await the arrival of General Lewis. That officer was 
soon with them, and the army commenced a pursuit of 
the retreating enemy. The latter, however, had gone so 
far that their capture was found te be impracticable. Scott 
lowered the standard of the fort with his own hands, and 
afterward continued the pursuit of the enemy. The 
column was afterward joined by Colonel Burn with his 



dragoons ; but the pursuit was soon discontinued by order 
of the commander, and the troops countermarched to 
Fort George, where they passed the night. 

In July, Scott resigned his situation as adjutant-gen- 
eral, and was promoted to the command of a regiment. 
He assisted in the capture of York, and in the unsuccess- 
ful expedition against Montreal. 

But it was in the stirring events of 1814, that Scott 
won that reputation which has ever placed him among 
the highest of American officers. The hardest fought 
battles in the whole war took place in that year, on the 
Canada border ; and in all of them he acted a valuable 

The battle of Chippewa Plains was fought on the af- 
ternoon of the 5th of July. The British had maintained 
a petty fire all the morning, which was not returned by 
their antagonists. About four in the afternoon this firing 
had become serious, and General Porter being sent for- 
ward to ascertain the force and position of the enemy, 
was soon in front of their main force. General Brown 
immediately ordered General Scott to advance with his 
brigade and Towson's artillery, and meet them upon a 
plain in front of the camp. This order was promptly 
obeyed, and soon Scott was unexpectedly in close action 
with a superior force of British regulars. The detach- 
ment of General Porter was now entirely routed, and 
their flight left the brigade of General Scott exposed to 
a most raking fire. But instead of retreating, he poured 
forward on the British with such impetuosity, that they 
first fell back toward a neighboring height, and afterward 
commenced a disorderly flight to their works. This 



terminated the operations of the day, although it had 
been the intention of General Brown to storm the enemy's 

In speaking of General Scott in connection with this 
battle, the commander says : " He is entitled to the 
highest praise our country can bestow ; to him more 
than any other man I am indebted for the victory of the 
5th of July." 

At Niagara it was again General Scott's fortune to 
commence the action. With the first brigade, Towson's 
artillery, and a number of dragoons, he was ordered 
toward the Queenston road, and came up with the 
enemy, posted on the opposite side of a narrow wood. 
He paused long enough to inform General Brown of his 
position, and then advanced upon the enemy. He passed 
the wood, and for a whole hour sustained a warm con- 
flict, unsupported, with the whole opposing force. A 
great deal of manoeuvring then took place, a new line 
was interposed between the British and General Scott in 
order to relieve that officer, and an important height of 
the enemy stormed and taken by Colonel Miller. The 
British were finally broken, and their defeat was com- 
plete. The Americans, however, were too exhausted to 
pursue, and sunk down on their arms, upon the field of 

In this battle General Scott was severely wounded. 
For his conduct at Niagara and Chippewa, he was re- 
warded by congress with a gold medal, and the rank of 
major-general ; and in 1816 the legislatures of New- 
York and his native state each voted him a sword, in 
token of their appreciation of his military services. 



Scott was concerned in the Florida and Northwest 
wars, and in the Canada disturbances ; but they afforded 
him no opportunities of distinguishing himself. On the 
death of General Macomb, he became commander-in- 
chief of the American army. 

Upon the opening of the present war with Mexico, 
Scott presented a plan of operations to government, 
which, had it been actively followed out, would have no 
doubt quickly terminated hostilities. It was, however, 
rejected, together with the demand that he might repair 
immediately to the scene of action. As the war pro- 
gressed, it became evident to government, that in a 
country like Mexico, it was necessary to act in more 
than one position ; and accordingly, late in November 
President Polk communicated his plan to General Scott, 
to the effect that he should immediately proceed to the 
seat of war, and take charge of the operations on the 
Gulf coast. Scott sailed from New- York on the 30th, 
and reached the Rio Grande on the 1st of January. 

The first object that engaged the attention of General 
Scott, was an attack upon the city of Vera Cruz. This 
city, with its castle, is perhaps the strongest military 
station in America ; and commands the entrance into 
central Mexico. Its massive works were lined with 
artillery and manned by an excellent army, under the 
command of General Morales. Scott's army was found 
totally inadequate to the reduction of this place, and he 
was obliged to order a detachment from General Taylor. 
This swelled his forces to 12,000 men, and with these 
he landed at Anton Lizardo on the 7th of March. The 
landing of the troops, in full view of the enemy, was 



effected by Commodore Conner ; and after some days of 
preparation, the bombardment commenced on the after- 
noon of the 22d. The defence was vigorous, but so de- 
structive was the fire of the assailants, that early on the 
morning of the 26th, propositions of surrender reached 
the American camp. Commissioners were appointed 
from both armies ; and on the 29th. the Mexican army 
abandoned the city and castle to their antagonists. 

During the whole of this terrible siege, when shells 
and shots were flying like hail from the ramparts of the 
castle, General Scott was riding from rank to rank of 
his army, ordering, directing, and controlling every 
effort of the artillery. His person seemed impervious 
to the shot ; and the same heroism that had crowned 
him with glory at Queenston and Lundy's Lane, dis- 
tinguished him before the blazing lines of Vera Cruz. 
Very many doubted whether or not the castle of San 
Juan could be taken at all ; all thought the siege would 
be tedious and destructive : Scott captured it in four 

On hearing of the fall of Vera Cruz, Santa Anna 
raised a large army, by great exertions, and marched 
toward the city. On the 8th, General Scott left it, and 
advanced into the interior. As he approached, the Mexi- 
can general retired, passing through Puebla and other 
places, until he reached the mountain pass of the Sierra 
Gordo. In this strong position he entrenched his forces, 
and awaited the arrival of the Americans. On the 18th, 
a battle w T as fought, in which Santa Anna was completely 
routed, most of his army captured, and a free passage 
made to Jalapa and Mexico. The American army num. 



bered about six thousand, and that of the enemy twelve 
thousand. The latter were posted in one of the strongest 
positions ever occupied by an army, and their defeat will 
ever be regarded as a proud monument of American 

A striking instance of the beautiful arrangement which 
pervades all the operations of General Scott, is afforded 
by the fact, that prior to this battle he had laid down all 
its vicissitudes and emergencies with as much correctness 
as he subsequently did in his official report. 

After this battle Puebla was taken by General Worth, 
and subsequently Jalapa fell into the hands of the Ameri- 
cans. Scott has continued his march to the capital, but 
on account of the smallness of his forces, he has not been 
able to operate with the promptness that characterized 
his former Mexican movements. Numerous reports, 
however, favor the opinion that he is on the eve of another 
battle with Santa Anna. 

Such is a skeleton of the life of General Scott. So 
much is said and written concerning the officers of the 
Mexican War, that panegyric seems to be exhausted, and 
it were perhaps wise in us to offer no comment upon the 
subject of our sketch. Among all the military men of 
America, few have ever ranked higher than Scott in 
every qualification that constitutes a great general ; and 
the future historian w T ill dwell with pride and profit on 
his personal bravery, his indomitable perseverance, his 
scientific combinations, and his enviable success. 





Tune — u Bruce 's Address." 

When on the wide spread battle-plain 
The horseman's hand can scarce restrain 
His pampered steed that spurns the rein, 
Remember the Alamo. 

When sounds the thrilling bugle blast, 
And " charge" from rank to rank is past, 
Then, as your sabre-strokes fall fast, 

Remember the Alamo. 

Heed not the Spanish battle-yell, 
Let every stroke ye give them tell, 
And let them fall as Crockett fell : 

Remember the Alamo. 

For every wound and every thrust 
On pris'ners dealt by hands accurst, 
A Mexican shall bite the dust : 

Remember the Alamo. 

The cannon's peal shall ring their knell, 
Each volley sound a passing-bell, 
Each cheer Columbia's vengeance tell : 

Remember the Alamo. 

For it, disdaining flight, they stand, 
And try the issue hand to hand : 
Wo to each Mexican brigand ! 

Remember the Alamo. 


Then boot and saddle ! draw the sword. 
Unfurl your banner bright and broad, 
And as ye smite the murderous horde, 

Remember the Alamo. 


Mexico presents the singular spectacle of a people 
governed by a republican constitution, and claiming 
republican honors, and yet in fact having its lower 
classes degraded to the condition of slaves. The people 
talk loudly of liberty and their rights as freemen ; and 
yet they permit their priests and political rulers to goad 
and trample them at pleasure. They pass from one 
usurper to another without seeming to have any interest 
in their government, or at least in the different changes 
which take place in it : and an able military ruler could 
seize upon the government, and. like Bonaparte, make 
the whole subservient to his nod. 

The Indians of Mexico have never been considered 
as entitled to equal rights with the white inhabitants. 
They were made slaves by Cortez. and as such they re- 
main at the present day. They work the mines, execute 
the public works, and are engaged in the meanest drudg- 
eries. Their children will be slaves after them : servi- 
tude is the hereditary legacy of the father : and his sons 
know not to aspire farther. Tell the Indian that his an- 
cestors once reigned in power and grandeur over the 



whole country, and he will reply quietly that he knows 
it ; but the inference which you wish him to draw, the 
great practical motive for his own conduct, he is incapa- 
ble of grasping. His native atmosphere is slavery, and 
he cannot thrive in any other. 

Besides this transmitted slavery, there are other kinds 
in Mexico. The manufacturing system is one. Not 
only are the operatives forced to toil a great part of the 
day, but in some cases they are regularly sold to the 
proprietor, and remain in the building during life, under 
a system of discipline more rigorous than that of our 
prisons. Often the wretched laborer is separated from 
her friends and home, and obliged to toil in hopeless 
misery, every day of which is hurrying her to the tomb. 

But the most common form under which slavery ex- 
ists, is what may be termed in some measure voluntary. 
An individual will permit himself to get into debt, either 
by borrowing, or receiving goods and other articles at a 
store. At the moment of doing so, perhaps, he does not 
intend to pay ; at least not in a formal manner. He 
therefore engages himself to the creditor as his servant, 
or peon, to work until he can liquidate the debt. As 
these peons generally require all their wages for their 
own subsistence, the original amount still remains un- 
paid, and the servant continues in servitude for life. 
This is nothing more than perpetual slavery, although it 
is not so considered by the parties concerned. 

Every store or business establishment has more or 
less of these servants connected with it, who are consi- 
dered as part of the property of the concern. In the 
country establishments, their number often swells to such 



an extent that the dwellings form a village, of which the 
crystallizing point is the building of the proprietors. 
The whole is denominated a rancho, the inhabitants be- 
ing rancheros ; and is not unlike the plantations of our 
southern states. 

This system is one of degradation, fostering indolence 
and roguery in all concerned. The latter quality is so 
characteristic, that no ranchero will permit an opportu- 
nity of theft to escape him, even though it be upon the 
person of a fellow ; hence in the civil wars which have 
distracted Mexico, they have ever been a source of terror 
to both armies, by lingering over the battle-field, and 
murdering all the wounded, preparatory to stripping their 

There are other classes and conditions of slaves in 
Mexico, but the above are the most important. The 
general features in all are the same — degradation, indo- 
lence, poverty, and consequently crime. The system is 
one of complete Feudalism ; the few revel in luxury, the 
many starve ; and from this condition there seems to be 
little prospect of amelioration. 

n FlRE AWAY." 


The following song, published in several of the newspapers before 
the recent events on the Rio Grande, will be read or sung with a 
melancholy interest — a just tribute to the gallant artillerists, and to 
their lamented leader. 

(From the Boston Daily Times.) 



The Mexican bandits 

Have crossed to our shore. 
Our soil has been dyed 

With our countrymen's gore ; 
The murderers' triumph 

Was theirs for a day : — 
Our triumph is coming — 

So fire — fire away ! 

Fire away ! 

Be steady — be ready— 

And firm every hand — 
Pour your shot like a storm 

On the murderous band. 
On their flanks, on their centre. 

Our batteries play — 
And we sweep them like chaff, 

As we fire — fire away ! 

. Fire away ! 

Lo ! the smoke-wreaths uprising ! 

The belching flames tear 
Wide gaps through the curtain, 

Revealing despair. 
Torn flutters their banner — 

No oriflamme gay : 



- They are wavering — sinking — 
So fire — fire away ! 

Fire away ! 

'Tis over — the thunders 

Have died on the gale — 
Of the wounded and vanquished 

Hark ! hark to the wail ! 
Long the foreign invader 

Shall mourn for the day, 
When Ringgold was summoned 

To fire — fire away ! 

Fire away ! 


The fight was fairly commenced on the 18th April, 
by General Twiggs and Colonel Harney, and it was 
concluded on the next day, about noon, by General 
Worth's and General Patterson's divisions. The enemy 
could not have had less than 15,000 fighting men, while 
our force was not over 12,000. The position of the 
Mexicans was one of the strongest imaginable, and our 
brave troops had a hard task to perform in routing them. 
They were entrenched upon several large heights, upon 
which no less than seven batteries were planted, mount- 
ing 24 guns in all. One by one they fell into our hands. 

At about 10 o'clock, a charge was made at several 
points by the regulars, the two Tennessee, and two Penn- 
sylvania regiments, which, for a time, was strongly op- 



posed by the Mexicans, who fought desperately ; but 
finally their trumpet sounded a retreat, and away went 
Santa Anna and the larger portion of his army as if 
w Old Nick " himself was after them! Not so. however, 
with General La Vega, and 5000 of his command, in- 
cluding four other generals, all of whom surrendered, 
and are now prisoners of war in camp, with all their 
arms, ammunition. 6cc. 

General Santa Anna, in his retreat, was so hotly pur- 
sued by Colonel Harney, who had command of the 7th 
infantry and mounted rifles, that he was forced to leave 
his splendid carriage, trunks, some 870,000 in silver, 
and one of his cork legs ! They are also in camp, and 
attract much attention, and cause no little merriment. 

Our loss in killed and wounded is severe, while that 
of the enemy is very great. Among those killed and 
wounded on our side, may be mentioned the name of 
General Shields, who fell at an early hour in the day. 

The Mexican forces on the height of Sierra Gordo, 
were the 3d and 4th light infantry, the 3d and 5th regi- 
ments of the line, and six pieces of artillery, with the 
requisite number of cavalry. Colonel Obando. chief of 
artillery, was killed, also General Vasques, general of 
division. Many of our officers were of opinion that this 
general was no other than Governor Morales. 

Our forces consisted of the 2d, 3d and 7th infantry 
and mounted riflemen, and Steptoe ? s battery. Captain 
Mason, of the rifles, was severely wounded — having lost 
his left leg. Lieutenant Ewell. of the 7th infantry, was 
severely wounded. Captain Patten, of the 2d — left hand 
shot off. 



On the 17th, Lieutenant Jarvis, of the 2d infantry, 
was wounded in ascending the first hill. 

On the top of Sierra Gordo, the scene was truly hor- 
rible ; — from the Jalapa road, dead bodies of the enemy 
could be seen on every spot where the eye was directed, 
until they literally covered the ascent to the height. 
There is about half an acre of level ground on the top of 
the mountain, and here was collected together the wound- 
ed of both armies, and the dead of our own. Side by 
side was laying the disabled American and the Mexican, 
and our surgeons were busy amputating and dressing the 
wounds of each — lotting them in turns, unless the acute 
pain of some sufferer further along caused him to cry 
out, when he would be immediately attended to. 

The pioneer parties of our men were picking up the 
wounded, and bringing them in from every part of the 
ascent to the height. From the side towards the river, 
where the storming party of General Twiggs' division 
made the charge, most of our men suffered, and many 
of the enemy also, for they made a desperate stand — but 
when they gave way, and started in confusion down the 
hill, was the time they most suffered— many of them re- 
ceiving the balls of our men in their backs. 

The charge on Sierra Gordo was one of those cool 
yet determined ones, so characteristic of the American 
soldier. From the time that our troops left the hill near- 
est that prominent height, the fire was incessant, and they 
had to fight their way, foot by foot, until they gained the 
summit, from which place the enemy gave way, after a 
very short resistance. 

The second in command to Santa Anna is a man as 



black as the ace of spades, with a name something like 

All Santa Anna's plate was taken, and his dinner, 
already cooked, eaten by our own officers. 

The writer states that Generals Patterson and Smith 
were both confined to their beds by sickness, and were 
unable to go into the fights with their commands. 



The city is perfectly quiet. No guerillas have been 
seen in the neighborhood for several days, and I believe 
all the " gray friars" have left for their respective divi- 
sions in the mountains and on the roads. I have not 
seen one since the night on which the row was kicked up 
in searching for Jarauta. 

This fellow has become quite a lion in Mexico — in- 
deed he already finds himself famous ; and some one in 
this city has attempted his life; not to take it, but to 
write it — and the result of this effort was, a few days 
since, given to the admiring world in an extra of El 
Arco Iris, which I enclose with this. From this docu- 
ment we learn that " Padre Pedro Caledonio Jarauta" is 
a native of the city of Catalayud, in Aragon, and is now 
from thirty-two to thirty-four years of age. At the com- 
mencement of the revolution in the Peninsula in 1834, he 



ran away from the convent of San Francisco, in which 
he was a student, and joined the faction of Carnicer. In 
the action between the command of this chieftain and the 
forces of the Government at Mallals, in Catalonia, Jarau- 
ta was severely wounded, and, together with a number 
of the Carlist party, was taken prisoner, and confined in 
the hospital prison at Valencia. From this place he 
managed to escape by scaling the walls, but, together 
with the companions of his flight, was recaptured, and 
transferred to safer quarters. He was subsequently 
sent to Cadiz, where Jie and the celebrated Isidro Ejea 
planned an escape from the St. Helena prison, in which 
they were confined, but were discovered in the act. In 
August, 1835, he, with one hundred and thirty of his 
fellow-prisoners, was sent to Havana, where he arrived 
on the 4th of the following October. Here he was con- 
fined in the Moro Castle, until Tacon issued an order for 
all the friars amongst the Spanish prisoners to retire to 
the monasteries of their respective orders in Havana. 
Jarauta was, consequently, sent to that of San Francisco, 
where he resumed the habits and followed the religious 
pursuits which he had abandoned for those of the field. 
Here his indomitable spirit and turbulent disposition 
brought him into trouble, and in bad odor with his con- 
freres, who repeatedly complained of him, until the 
Governor ordered him to be confined in the new prison, 
where he found himself in 1838. From this place he 
managed to escape, and made his way to Mexico. In 
Vera Cruz he is well known, having been for some time 
a curate of the church of San Francisco. 

Jarauta has an extremely ready and lively genius, 



posesses a warm and generous heart, while, as an enemy, 
he is implacable. Possessed of an enterprising and ener- 
getic character, nothing daunts him ; and when he enga- 
ges in an undertaking, it is with the fixed purpose of de- 
sisting only upon success or death. In the midst of his 
greatest misfortunes, he is never sad nor depressed, but 
his happy and daring genius is always found equal to 
the emergency of the occasion. His stubborn and power- 
ful will has won for him the well-merited soubriquet of 
the " Aragonese." His figure is good — his stature five 
feet three or four inches, and he has but little beard. 

For the benefit of those who are puzzled to pronounce 
Spanish names, I would say that his is prononced Har- 
rowtah — the ow sounded as in " brow." 


The U. S. Steamers Vixen and Spitfire, originally 
built for the Mexican navy, were purchased by our gov- 
ernment and despatched to the Gulf, about the close of 
August, 1846. 

. Commanders Tatnall and Sands, as intrepid, brave, 
and active officers as our service can boast, cheerfully 
accepted the command, though inferior to their grade. 
The Vixen carried three twenty-four-pounders, and the 
Spitfire one sixty-eight and two thirty-two-pounders — 
otherwise the little beauties were much alike, and soon, 
through scenes of usefulness and danger, so endeared 
themselves to our tars, that they were familiarly and lov- 




ingly christened " The two Pollies." They had 
taken the lead at the first attack on Alvarado — were at 
the taking of Tabasco, Tampico, Laguna, and Tuspan — 
had assisted in covering the debarkation of our army at 
Vera Cruz — -in fact, were present wherever activity or 
daring could hope to win honor ; but it is some of their 
mad pranks at the Siege of Vera Cruz that we are now 
about to chronicle. Indeed, if for a moment the gal- 
lantry and heroic emulation of our tars could be forgotten, 
the narrative of some of the exploits of the " Two Pol- 
lies" and of their colleagues among the u Musquito fleet " 
would partake not a little of the ridiculous — thus these 
small steamers boldly arraying their comparative insig- 
nificance against the terrific battlements opposed to them, 
might appear Quixotic, and their escape hopeless. Nev- 
ertheless, they caused much destruction in the town of 
Vera Cruz, and annoyed the Castle of San Juan d'Ulloa 
considerably by their shells. But we know nothing of 
" the log " — " the Commodore' s orders " — or " official de- 
spatches " — all we have the run of is some of the capers 
of the " Two Potties" and of our fellows aboard, which 
we guess were not served up in the " Report to the Sec- 
retary but are, notwithstanding, " as true as preach- 

On the 2 2d, the Spitfire and Vixen had a regular 
blow out. All that night they lay under Punto de Hornos, 
within range of the batteries of both city and castle, 
pouring in broadsides till their ammunition was expend- 
ed, and had been supplied from the fleet again and again, 
when, early in the morning, the gallant Tatnall, regard- 
less of all odds, proposed to his friend and comrade, 



Sands, closer quarters, and that they should stand out 
right in front of the town and castle — so as to show more 
of " The Two Pollies, 55 and of their behavior. " Agreed ! 
with all my heart" says Sands — and away they dashed 
down the middle. Tatnall had a great swaggering en- 
sign at his fore, awfully bigger than his vessel — as if just 
to show who was admiral on this occasion. " The Two 
Follies" went it strong over the waters — but with inimi- 
table grace, though they had to puff and blow a little 
before they brought up " all standing " — as if their lady- 
ships were taking their places in a quadrille " vis-a-vis " 
to Fort Santiago and to the castle. Now this was " a hoi 
place" especially for small fry. The ladies saluted, led 
off — " forward two " — Fort Santiago, like a gentleman, 
immediately returned the compliment, but the castle, 
surly, overgrown brute as he was, looked grim and gruff 
as a bear, and it was not until " The Two Follies had 
let out a little of the Spitfire and Vixen of their nature, 
that, with a tremendous roar, all sorts of missiles show- 
ered — sweet as sugar plums in Carnival— around the 
apparently doomed little wretches. " The poetry of their 
motion," however, was undisturbed except by the accel- 
eration of their own " music/ 7 The jig lasted more than 
an hour, during which time, it is but justice to the Mexi- 
can gallants to say that they were as " lloody politeful" 
as they could be, unceasingly showering their favors 
around our Two Follies. Still, it must be confessed that 
their civilities were awkward enough, for they took not 
the least effect on any of the tender sensibilities of the 
two ladies. " Zounds — what shooting //" Poor Tatnall 
was in utter despair — he had waited with perfect serenity 



for them to take good aim — to make one decent shot at 
least — but such unscientific peppering! — never was the 
like, it was entirely unbearable, he could not stand it, 
and strode about the deck, out of all patience, exclaim- 
ing: " What ! nothing — nobody hit yet! — Zounds — no- 
body killed ! — not an officer killed or wounded ! ! — nothing 
Hurt ! ! I—The d—ltake such fun P 9 

Seriously, this adventure was one of the most gallant 
and daring events of naval warfare. We repeat that it 
was almost a miracle the ships were not blown ; * sky 
high/ 5 or our " Two Follies " sent prematurely to Da- 
vy's locker " — but it is not our province to discuss grave 
matters, nor to write by " the log/"" Mr, Secretary Mason 
may look out for himself. TVe are going it on our own hook. 

The Two Potties, what with a regular hail-storm of 
round shot and of shells, and some of them of the biggest 
kind — fire without and fire within — boilers to burst — 
shoals and rocks to bilge on — powder in the ugly 
little magazine — powder in the wheel-houses — fire and 
powder every where on their crowded decks, were 
certainly in what " Mr. Secretary " might call u a 
bad fix/' 7 Three hearty cheers from the officers of our 
army ashore had greeted them as they stood in, but who 
could say they ever would stand out ? Nothing disturbed 
them, however. The music was being kept up, when the 
gallant Lieutenant Parker * (the same who had, a few 
months before, so daringly destroyed a vessel under the 
very walls of the castle) was taken all aback with the 

* Lieutenant James L . Parker ., one of the heroes of the Creole ex- 
ploits, &c... fell a victim to the fever, afterwards. 



Quixotism of the affair, and left his gun. for a moment, 
to inquire, with a most quizzical phiz, of the captain — 
whether he saw •'• any icindmiUs about''' — that they might 
tilt a lance with — e< No I no /" sung out Sands — "not yet 
— hut we will catch one by anal by.'' (They were not. 
however, as unfortunate as the Don, for they all came 
off with whole bones — but it was not their fault.) 

From the captain to " the captain's darkey.'"' it was 
impossible to keep the fight down. Sands had a bridge 
put across from the wheel-houses, and stood high and dry 
thereon to superintend the fun. He had his weather eye 
open, we guess, when he spied that fireman playing 
" sodger," with belt, cartouch-box. musket and bayonet, 
— every now and then chunking the furnace, and then 
popping up, stiff as Cuffy, to take a hand himself. The 
captain made him " drop that, quick,'" for it would not 
exactly do to burst a boiler at that stage of the game. 

All hands, landsmen and boys, enjoyed the frolic. 
The boy To?n, - captain' s darkey. ' : couldn't stay quiet, so 
they made a powder-monkey of him to the long gun, and 
the way he kept a supply a-going was a caution.''" Tom, 
like the chap who pulled the bellows of the organ, seemed 
then to think nothing could be done without him, but 
" the darkey," afterwards, let fall some expressions, 
which, with uncharitable and evil-disposed persons, might 
militate against his courage : for he was understood to say 
that he thought " the harder he worked, the less he was 

The noise of the whizzing of balls, the thundering of 
the artillery, the queer rumbling of shells through the 
air — heaving and tossing the water, foam, and spray 



about, as they fell around (for the enemy's shot and shell 
hit every where but in the right place) — was only com- 
parable to forty congressmen " on their legs " at once, 
with the speaker's hammer calling to order in vain, 
except that things went on aboard the two Pollies as reg- 
ular as clockwork, only a little faster. Jack Matthews, 
sick when he joined the Vixen, but always on duty, 
and ever ready for a fight, worked his gun beautifully, 
and with most philosophical steadiness ; while with the 
other officers, Murray, Jeffers, Simpson, it was " Shoot, 
Luke, or give me the gun." — They cracked away as if 
they were " pigeon shooting," and were bound to hit 
" nine out of ten." Matthews, with his gun, had the last 
shot ; he nursed it up tenderly, got the sweetest aim ima- 
ginable on him, and let fly. Sands had told Jack he 
would " get his answer," and sure enough, the biggest 
kind of a shell came screaching, whizzing, and whirling, 
but it was " no go." 

For some time, it had, somehow or other, been inti- 
mated aboard, that there was a signal of recall flying 
from the commodore's ship. It is not known exactly, 
(and, perhaps, never will be known — at " the Depart- 
ment") why Tatnall and Sands could not see it — mayhap 
Sands was looking at Tatnall, and Tatnall was looking at 
the enemy, — but so it was ; an officer from the commo- 
dore, at last, had to bring a peremptory order recalling 
" The Two Pollies." — Perhaps the commodore thought, 
like mothers at a ball, that " the young ladies had staid 
long enough"- — certain it is, The Two Pollies " came 
off, however unwillingly, in time to prevent having their 
good looks spoilt — -making their " congg " so gracefully 

colonel doniph^n's march. 


and prettily that they were again cheered heartily from 
the land and sea forces around them. 

Thus was wound up that " lark " of our "Two 
Potties,'' and this winds up all we can tell, in this chap- 
ter, of the " Musquito fleet." — We had forgotten "the 
Moral," — -if our yam ever had one ; — it must be, 
however, something full as touching as this : — Whenever 
" Two Potties " are circumstanced as they were, and situ- 
ated as they are, they must have the own luck, to 

escape without a life lost, a wound received, or any injury 



On Friday the 2d inst. Col. Doniphan and his com- 
mand arrived at St. Louis. They were received in a 
most enthusiastic manner, by the ringing of bells, the 
pealing of cannon, and the shouts of a vast multitude of 

Col. Benton was orator of the day, and pronounced 
the Address of Welcome. The address is published at 
length in the St. Louis New Era. We annex a few ex- 

"Your march and exploits have been among the most 
wonderful of the age. At the call of your country you 
marched a thousand miles to the conquest of New Mex- 
ico, as part of the force under Gen. Kearney, and achieved 



that conquest without the loss of a man or the fire of a 
gun. That work finished, and New Mexico, itself so 
distant, and so lately the Ultima Thule — the outside 
boundary of speculation and enterprise — so lately a dis- 
tant point to be attained, becomes itself a point of depar- 
ture — a beginning point for new and far more extended 
expeditions. You look across the long and lofty chain — 
the Cordilleras of North America — which divide the At- 
lantic from the Pacific waters ; and you see beyond that 
ridge a savage tribe which had been long in the habit of 
depredating upon the province which had just become an 
American conquest. You, a part only of the subsequent 
Chihuahua column, under Jackson and Gilpin, march 
upon them — bring them to terms — and they sign a treaty 
with Col. Doniphan, in which they bind themselves to 
cease their depredations on the Mexicans, and to become 
the friends of the United States. A novel treaty that ! 
signed on the western confines of New Mexico, between 
parties who had hardly ever heard each other's names 
before, and to give peace and protection to Mexicans who 
were hostile to both. This was the meeting and this the 
parting of the Missouri volunteers, with the numer- 
ous and savage tribe of the Navaho Indians, living on 
the waters of the Gulf of California, and so long the 
terror and scourge of Sonora, Sinaloa, and New Mexico. 

" This object accomplished, and impatient of inactiv- 
ity, and without orders, (Gen. Kearney having departed 
for California,) you cast about to carve out some new 
work for yourselves. Chihuahua, a rich and populous 
city of nearly 30,000 souls, the seat of government of 
the state of that name, and formerly the residence of 



the captains general of the Internal Provinces under the 
vice-regal government of New Spain, was the captivating 
object which fixed your attention. It was a far distant 
city — about as far from St. Louis as Moscow is from 
Paris ; and towns, and enemies, and a large river, and 
defiles, and mountains, and the desert whose ominous 
name portends death to travellers — el jornada de los 
invert os — the journey of the dead — all lay between you. 
It was a perilous enterprise, and a discouraging one for 
a thousand men, badly equipped, to contemplate. No 
matter. Danger and hardship lent it a charm, and the 
adventurous march was resolved on, and the execution 
commenced. First, the ominous desert was passed, its 
character vindicating its title to its mournful appellation 
— an arid plain of ninety miles, strewed with the bones 
of animals that had perished of hunger and thirst — little 
hillocks of stone, and the solitary cross, erected by pious 
hands, marking the spot where some Christian had fallen 
victim of the savage, of the robber, or of the desert itself 
— no water — no animal life — no sign of habitation. 
There the Texan prisoners, driven by the cruel Salazar, 
had met their direst sufferings, unrelieved, as in other 
parts of the country, by the compassionate ministrations 
(for where is it that woman is not compassionate ?) of the 
pitying women. The desert was passed, and the place 
for crossing the river approached. A little arm of the 
river Bracito (in Spanish), made out from its side. 
There the enemy, in superior numbers, and confident in 
cavalry and artillery, undertook to bar the way. A ain 
pretension ! Their discovery, attack, and rout, were 
about simultaneous operations. A few minutes did the 

210 colonel doniphan's march. 

work ! And in this way our Missouri volunteers of the 
Chihuahua column, spent their Christmas day of the 
year 1846. 

" The victory of Bracito opened the way to the 
crossing of the river Del Norte, and to admission into 
the beautiful little town of the Passo del Norte, where a 
neat cultivation, a comfortable people, fields, orchards 
and vineyards, and a hospitable reception, offered the rest 
and refreshment which toils and dangers and victory had 
won. You rested there till artillery was brought down 
from Sante Fe ; but the pretty town of the Passo del 
Norte, with all its enjoyments, and they were many, and 
the greater for the place in which they were found, was 
not a Capua to the men of Missouri. You moved for- 
ward in February, and the battle of the Sacramento, one 
of the military marvels of the age, cleared the route to 
Chihuahua, which was entered without further resistance-. 
It had been entered once before by a detachment of 
American troops ; but under circumstances how differ- 
ent ! In the year 1807, Lieutenant Pike and his thirty 
brave men, taken prisoners on the head of the Rio del 
Norte, had been marched captives into Chihuahua : in 
the year 1847, Doniphan and his men entered it as con- 
querors. The paltry triumph of a captain-general over 
a lieutenant, was effaced in the triumphal entrance of a 
thousand Missourians into the grand and ancient capital 
of all the Internal Provinces ! and old men, still alive, 
could remark the grandeur of the American spirit under 
both events — the proud and lofty bearing of the captive 
thirty — the mildness and moderation of the conquering 



"Chihuahua was taken, and responsible duties, more 
delicate than those of arms, were to be performed. Ma- 
ny American citizens were there, engaged in trade ; 
much American property was there. All this was to be 
protected, both lives and property, and by peaceful ar- 
rangement ; for the command was too small to admit of 
division, and of leaving a garrison. Conciliation and 
negotiation were resorted to, and successfully. Every 
American interest was provided for, and placed under 
the safeguard, first, of good will, and next, of guaranties 
not to be violated with impunity. 

" Chihuahua gained, it became, like Santa Fe, not the 
terminating point of a long expedition, but the beginning 
point of a new one. Gen. Taylor was somewhere — no 
one knew exactly where — but some seven or eight hun- 
dred miles towards the other side of Mexico. You had 
heard that he had been defeated — that Buena Vista had 
not been & good prospect to him. Like good Americans, 
you did not believe a word of it : but. like good soldiers, 
you thought it best to go and see. A volunteer party of 
fourteen, headed by Collins, of Boonville, undertook to 
penetrate to Saltillo. and bring you information of his 
condition. They set out. Amidst innumerable dangers 
they accomplish their purpose, and return. You march. 
A vanguard of one hundred men, led by Lieut. Colonel 
Mitchell, led the way. Then came the main body (if 
the name is not a burlesque on such a handful), com- 
manded by Colonel Doniphan himself. 

" The whole table-land of Mexico, in all its breadth, 
from west to east, was to be traversed. A numerous 
and hostile population in towns — treacherous Camanches 


colonel Doniphan's march. 

in the mountains — were to be passed. Every thing was 
to be self-provided — provisions, transportation, fresh hor- 
ses for remounts, and even the means of victory — and all 
without a military chest, or even an empty box, in which 
government gold had ever reposed. All was accom- 
plished. Mexican towns were passed, in order and quiet : 
plundering Camanches were punished : means were ob- 
tained from traders to liquidate indispensable contribu- 
tions : and the wants that could not be supplied were 
endured like soldiers of veteran service. 

" I say the Camanches were punished. And here pre- 
sents itself an episode of a novel, extraordinary, and 
romantic kind — Americans chastising savages for plun- 
dering people who they themselves came to conquer, and 
forcing the restitution of captives and of plundered pro- 
perty. A strange story this to tell in Europe, where back- 
woods character, western character, is not yet completely 
known. But to the facts. In the muskeet forest of the 
Bolson de Mapimi. and in the sierras around the beautiful 
town and fertile district of Parras, and in all the open 
country for hundreds of miles round about, the savage 
Camanches have held dominion ever since the usurper 
Santa Anna disarmed the people, and sally forth from 
their fastnesses to slaughter men, plunder cattle, and 
carry off women and children. An exploit of this kind 
had just been performed on the line of the Missourians'* 
march, not far from Parras. and an advanced party 
chanced to be in that town at the time the news of the 
depredation arrived there. It was only fifteen strong. 
Moved by gratitude for the kind attentions of the people, 
especially the women, to the sick of General Wool's 

colonel doniphan's march. 


command^ necessarily left in Parras, and unwilling to be 
outdone by enemies in generosity, the heroic fifteen, upon 
the spot, volunteered to go back, hunt out the depreda- 
tors, and punish them, without regard to numbers. A 
grateful Mexican became their guide. On their way 
they fell in with fifteen more of their comrades ; and, in 
a short time, seventeen Camanches killed out of sixty- 
five, eighteen captives restored to their families, and three 
hundred and fifty head of cattle recovered for their own- 
ers, was the fruit of this sudden and romantic episode. 

a Such noble conduct was not without its effect on the 
minds of the astonished Mexicans. An official document 
from the prefect of the place to Captain Reid, leader of 
this detachment, attests the verity of the fact, and the 
gratitude of the Mexicans ; and constitutes a trophy of a 
new kind in the annals of war. Here it is in the orim- 
nal Spanish, and I will read it off in English. 

" It is officially dated from the Prefecture of the De- 
partment of Parras, signed by the prefect, Jose Ignacio 
Arrabe, and addressed to Captain Reid, the 18th of May, 
and says : 

" 6 At the first notice that the barbarians, after killing 
many, and taking captives, were returning to their 
haunts, you generously and bravely offered, with fifteen 
of your subordinates, to fight them on their crossing by 
the Pazo, executing this enterprise with celerity, address, 
and bravery, worthy of all eulogy, and worthy of the 
brilliant issue which all celebrate. You recovered many 
animals and much plundered property, and eighteen cap- 
tives were restored to liberty and to social enjoyments, 
their souls overflowing with a lively sentiment of joy and 

214 colonel doniphan's march. 

gratitude, which all the inhabitants of this town equally 
breathe, in favor of their generous deliverers and their 
valiant chief. The half of the Indians killed in the com- 
bat, and those which fly wounded, do not calm the pain 
which all feel for the wound which your excellency re- 
ceived defending Christians and civilized beings against 
the rage and brutality of savages. All desire the speedy 
re-establishment of your health ; and although they know 
that in your own noble soul will be found the best reward 
of your conduct, they desire also to address you the ex- 
pression of their gratitude and high esteem. I am hon- 
ored in being the organ of the public sentiment ; and 
pray you to accept it, with the assurance of my most dis- 
tinguished esteem. 

" ' God and Liberty V 

" This is a trophy of a new kind in war, won by thirty 
Misspurians, and worthy to be held up to the admiration 
of Christendom. 

" The long march from Chihuahua to Monterey was 
made more in the character of protection and deliverance 
than of conquest and invasion. Armed enemies were 
not met, and peaceful people were not disturbed. You 
arrived in the month of May in General Taylor's camp, 
and about in a condition to vindicate, each of you for him- 
self, your lawful title to the double sobriquet of the gen- 
eral, with the addition to it which the colonel of the 
expedition has supplied — ragged — as well as rough and 
ready. No doubt you all showed title, at that time, to 
that third sobriquet : but to see you now, sogayly attired, 
so sprucely equipped, one might suppose that you had 
never, for an instant, been a stranger to the virtues of 

colonel doniphan's march. 215 

soap and water, or the magic ministrations of the Man- 
chisseuse, and the elegant transformations of the fashion- 
able tailor. Thanks, perhaps, to the difference between 
pay in the lump at the end of service, and driblets in the 
course of it. 

" You arrived in General Taylor's camp ragged and 
rough, as we can well conceive, and ready, as I can 
quickly show. You reported for duty ! you asked for 
service ! — such as a march upon San Luis de Potosi, 
Zacatecas, or the " halls of the Montezumas," or any 
thing in that way that the general should have a mind 
to. If he was going upon any excursion of that kind, 
all right. No matter about fatigues that were passed, 
or expirations of service that might accrue ; you came to 
go, and only asked the privilege. 

" That is what I call ready. Unhappily the conqueror 
of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, and Buena 
Vista, was not in exactly the condition that the lieuten- 
ant-general, that might have been, intended him to be. 
He was not at the head of 20,000 men ! he was not at 
the head of any thousands that would enable him to 
march ! and had to decline the proffered service. Thus 
the long-marched and well-fought volunteers — the rough, 
the ready, and the ragged, had to turn their faces towards 
home, still more than two thousand miles distant. But 
this being mostly by water, you hardly count it in the 
recital of your march. But this is an unjust omission, 
and against the precedents as well as unjust. " The 
Ten Thousand" counted the voyage on the Black Sea as 
well as the march from Babylon ; and twenty centuries 
admit the validity of the count. The present age, and 



posterity, will include in c the going out and coming in' 
of the Missouri Chihuahua volunteers, the water voyage 
as well as the land march ; and then the expedition of 
the One Thousand will exceed that of the Ten by some 
two thousand miles. 

a The last nine hundred miles of your land march, from 
Chihuahua to Matamoras, you made in forty-five days, 
bringing seventeen pieces of artillery, eleven of which 
were taken from the Sacramento and Bracito. Your 
horses, travelling the whole distance without United States 
provender, were astonished to find themselves regaled on 
their arrival on the Rio Grande frontier, with hay, corn, 
and oats from the States. You marched further than the 
farthest, fought as well as the best, left order and quiet 
in your train, and cost less money than any. 

" You arrive here to-day, absent one year, marching 
and fighting all the time, bringing trophies of cannon and 
standards from fields whose names were unknown to you 
before you set out, and only grieving that you could not 
have gooe further. Ten pieces of cannon, rolled out of 
Chihuahua to arrest your march, now roll through the 
streets of St. Louis, to grace your triumphal return. 
Many standards, all pierced with bullets, while waving 
over the heads of the enemy at the Sacramento, now 
wave at the head of your column. The black flag, 
brought to the Bracito, to indicate the refusal of that 
quarter which its bearers so soon needed and received, 
now takes its place among your trophies, and hangs 
drooping in their nobler presence. To crown the whole 
— to make public and private happiness go together — to 
spare the cypress where the laurel hangs in clusters — 



this long and perilous march, with all its accidents of 
field and camp, presents an incredibly small list of com- 
rades lost. Almost all return ! and the joy of families 
resounds, intermingled with the applauses of the state." 

Colonel Doniphan responded in eloquent terms, and 
admitted that Colonel Benton's speech gave a glowing, 
eloquent, and faithful account of the expedition. He said 
that, if peace is to be secured to Mexico, it must be the 
result of a vigorous prosecution of the war. The armies 
must be immediately reinforced, and not kept paralyzed 
on a field where their presence counted for nothing upon 
the termination of the war. 

(From Park Benjamin's Western Continent.) 


There are sounds of mighty conflict by a peaceful river's shore, 
And the tranquil air is shaken by the deaf 'ning cannon's roar ; 
Bv the deaf 'ning roar of cannon, like the rolling thunder peal, 
And the rattling sharp of musketry, the clash and clang of steel, 
And the shouts of conquering squadrons, the groans of dying 

And the neighing of affrighted steeds, swiff scouring o'er the 
plain ; 

For the sons of young Columbia are battling hand to hand, 
With the legions of proud Mexico, beside the Rio Grande. 

Amid the thickest of the fray a gallant chief flies fast ; 
His swarthy foes before him bend, like reeds before the blast ; 




On right and left, on left and right, he wields a trusty sword, 
And blood upon the trampled turf, like ruddy wine is pour'd. 
His clarion voice rings loudly, his arm is stout and strong, 
And none are readier to avenge his slighted country's wrong ; 
But ah ! the death-shot, lightning-winged, has struck amid his 

And the gallant chief lies bleeding, beside the Rio Grande. 

Dismay and consternation on that little squadron fell, 
For there were none but loved him right faithfully and well ; 
They fly with swift alacrity, to aid him, and to cheer, 
And the eyes of lion-hearted men shed many a briny tear. 
But while, with sad solicitude, his mangled form they rais'd, 
His proud eye flashed unearthly light, as o'er the field he gaz'd — 
" Rush on, my men, ye've work to do," he cried in loud com- 

And bade them to the fight again, beside the Rio Grande. 

They are speeding like the hurricane, they've left him, they are 

And pillowed on the verdant turf, the soldier lies alone ; 
The battle's tide has rolled away and none are near him now, 
To soothe his agony, or wipe the cold drops from his brow ; 
But from his breast escapes no sigh, no murmur from his lips, 
And while his sight grows dim beneath the gath'ring death 
eclipse — 

As in a dream, the soldier's heart is with his native land, 
And little recks he of the strife beside the Rio Grande. 

He is sitting now, her darling boy, beside his mother's knee, 
The wild fawn 'mid the free blue hills not happier than he ; 
Or roaming through the meadow grass to pluck the early flow- 

Whose perfume lingers round us e'en to life's remotest hours. 



A bright-eyed girl, more beautiful than morn's first rosy beam, 
His fond enraptured spirit stirs with love's enchanting dream ; 
She chides his warm caresses not — he clasps her gentle hand — 
Ah ! thrill'd with pain, he wakes again, beside the Rio Grande. 

And now returning lustre for a moment lights his eye — 

Oh ! is it not a glorious thing thus on the field to die ? 

For well he knows that after years shall venerate his name, 

And crown his deathless mem'ry with the laurel wreath of fame ; 

And youth, and sober manhood, and hoary-headed age, 

Shall dwell with rapture o'er his deeds upon the historic page, 

And patriot mothers tell their babes how well his valiant hand 

Did battle in its country's cause, beside the Rio Grande. 

The film is spreading o'er his eye — the ashen hue of death 
Steals swiftly o'er his features now, and fainter grows his 

Hark ! hark ! the cry of victory the dying man has reach'd : 
He raised his head exultingly and wide his arms outstretch'd ; 
A smile played round his pallid lips, then sank he on the sod, 
And freed from its frail teuement, the spirit sought its God. 
And now the green grass o'er him, by the southern breeze is 

And the gallant hero slumbering lies beside the Rio Grande. 





From the New-Orleans Delta, July 16. 

There arrived yesterday in our city, by the schooner 
Home, from Tampico, John Swigert, John Scott. W. 
Holeman, of Captain Milam's company of Kentucky ca- 
valry ; P. Tunk. of Captain Pennington's, and W. P. 
Denowitz, of Captain Heady's company, all of whom 
belonged to the command of Major Gaines, which was 
captured last February, near Encarnacion, by a large 
Mexican force under General Minon. 

These gallant fellows, who are very young men, 
escaped from their guard at the town of Huequetla, 
about forty leagues from Tampico ; and reaching the 
latter place in safety, after a most perilous and trying 
march, embarked for this port in the schooner Home. 

In a very gratifying interview with Mr. Swigert, one 
of these young men. we have learned many interesting 
particulars of the capture, sufferings, trials, and adven- 
tures of Major Gaines's party. To relate all the interest- 
ing and romantic incidents, so modestly and forcibly 
detailed to us by this brave young Kentuckian, would 
swell our narrative quite beyond the compass of our 
paper. We trust that the task of snatching from obli- 
vion and handing down to posterity a faithful record of 
the stirring incidents connected with the capture and 
march of this party, will be assumed and discharged by 



some of the very capable officers or soldiers who parti- 
cipated in these eventful scenes. The genius of Cassius 
M. Clay would, no doubt, do full justice to the subject ; 
and we ardently hope he may soon be in a situation to 
fulfil the hopes of his countrymen in that regard. 

The principal events of the capture of Majors Gaines 
and Borland's parties are well known to our readers. — 
These officers, with three companies of Kentucky and 
Arkansas cavalry, were out on a scouting party. It was 
thought that there were small bodies of the enemy's ca- 
valry prowling about the country ; but no one had the 
slightest apprehension, that a large force could be so 
near General Wool's camp. 

Major Gaines having joined Major Borland at a 
rancho near Encarnacion, the two commands went into 
quarters for the night, after posting sentinels some dis- 
tance in advance and on the top of the house in which 
they were encamped. That night the officers, who, tired 
by a very long march, had laid down to sleep, were seve- 
ral times aroused by the alarms of the sentinel, who de- 
clared that he saw an armed Mexican approaching the 
rancho. But the sentinels on the top of the house de- 
clared that they could see nothing; and the man who 
gave the alarm, was treated as rather a nervous and 
dreaming individual. The officers thereupon retired 
again to their blankets, but had scarcely fallen asleep 
when they were aroused by another alarm from the sen- 
tinel, who declared that he had again seen an armed 
Mexican and had pulled trigger on him, but, his gun 
being wet, the cap did not explode. Other alarms were 
also given by other sentinels picketed some distance from 



the rancho. The night was now waning fast. It was 
very dark and misty. The officers bestirred them- 
selves, and arousing the men, prepared to meet an at- 
tack, thinking that the enemy consisted of a force of four 
or five hundred, which Major Gaines had already been 
in pursuit of, and which he considered a force about 
equal to his own. 

Our men were all collected on the top of that rancho, 
with their guns ready for action, full of courage and 
zeal, and warmly desirous of a handsome brush with 
the enemy. The morn broke slowly. The mist hung 
heavily around them ; and although they could hear 
very plainly the approach of horsemen, they could see 
nothing. At last the light began to break through the 
mist immediately in their front, and the faint outline of a 
strong body of armed horsemen was perceptible in the 
distance. And as the mist rolled and gathered up into 
huge clouds, and gently ascended toward the neighbor- 
ing heights, it revealed, with most painful distinctness, a 
whole regiment of splendidly equipped Mexican lancers 
drawn up in line of battle, and occupying a command- 
ing position within three hundred yards of the rancho 
occupied by Major Gaines's party. 

Undauntedly surveying and counting this strong 
force before them, our men prepared for action, crying 
out, " Oh, there are only six hundred of them— it's a fair 
fight, and we will see it out !" But stop ! Look on the 
right as the mists leave that side of the rancho, there is 
another regiment, just as strong as that in front. 

" Well," cried a stalwart Kentuckian, who kept all 
the while a bright eye on his long rifle, " this is coming 



it rather strong ; the thing looks serious, most decidedly, 
but I reckon we can lick a thousand Greasers, and 
throw in two hundred for good measure." "Can't we ?" 
was the unanimous cry of the party. 

" But, oh cranky," cried the tall sergeant, u here's 
more of the varmints." And there, sure enough, on their 
left was another regiment about six hundred strong, 
whose bright helmets, flaming pennons, and showy uni- 
forms, loomed out conspicuously in the dark horizon. 
And there, too, just a few hundred yards in their rear, 
was still another regiment. Thus was this small party 
of one hundred and twenty Americans entirely sur- 
rounded by a Mexican force of about three thousand ca- 
valry, the finest in the country, and commanded by one 
of their best officers. 

Undismayed, our men prepared for action, deter- 
mined to sell their lives as dearly as possible. Never 
did men go more calmly and coolly to work than this 
little Spartan band, as with many a careless jest and the 
most imperturbable sang froid^ they re-loaded and re- 
capped their rifles, looked to their cartouch-boxes, felt 
the edge of their bowie-knives, and glanced a proud de- 
fiance at their legion foe. 

In the mean time the enemy preserved the most per- 
fect military order, and presented a display of martial 
magnificence, such as our men had never before wit- 
nessed. Their officers, covered with gold and splendidly 
mounted and caparisoned, rode in front, while their 
buglers blew the Mexican charge, and made the lulls 
around resound with their loud and exulting blasts. 

Major Gaines ordered his bugler to respond to their 



threatening flourish, by blowing, with all his might, the 
American charge, and directed the men to follow up the 
blast with three loud cheers. The order was cheerfully 
and heartily obeyed. The Mexicans, who were advancing 
upon the rancho, were so awed by the loud yells and 
terrific huzzas of our boys, that they halted, and looked 
at our little band in mute terror and astonishment that 
so small a party could make such a tremendous noise. 
" Give them three times three," cried out Capt. Cassius 
M. Clay, and the huzzas were prolonged to the full 
complement until they made the welkin ring for miles 
around, and so frightened the Mexicans, that their gene- 
ral, to prevent his men from running away, had to order 
his fine brass band to stike up the Polka, and to wheel 
his men into column and put them on the march. In 
open order, and with military precision, the Mexicans 
marched around the rancho to the tune of the Craco- 
vienne ; and seemed, like the cat with its little victim, 
to be sporting with their captive before they destroyed 

An officer with an interpreter and white flag was sent 
to Major Gaines to demand his unconditional surrender. 
" Never," replied the gallant American. " Then no 
quarters will be given," remarked the Mexican. " Very 
well," exclaimed Captain Clay, " remember the Alamo ; 
before we surrender on such terms, more than five hun- 
dred of your yellow-belly scoundrels shall be left to 
bleach on yonder plains." This remark, the interpreter 
did not think he could do full justice to in the translation, 
and he left the officer to guess at its meaning, which, 
however, was no difficult task, as the captain accompa- 



nied his declaration with very emphatic and expressive 

It was finally agreed that Major Gaines should have 
an interview with General Minon. From him the Major 
received very courteous treatment, and was assured that 
in surrendering himself and his party they would be 
treated with all the consideration of prisoners of war. 

Major Gaines, on communicating the result of his in- 
terview with General Minon to his officers, took a vote 
whether they should fight or surrender, and Captains Clay 
and Danby, and Lieutenant Davidson, were for fighting, 
and Majors Gaines and Borland were for surrendering. 
While they were parleying with the Mexicans, Major 
Gaines observed that their men were approaching near 
the rancho. He immediately ordered his men to fire 
upon the Mexicans if they approached a foot nearer, and 
told their officers he should not continue the parley until 
their men fell back to their original position, which they 
did in very quick order when a few rifles were levelled 
in their direction. They finally, Captain Clay giving in 
to Majors Gaines and Borland, agreed to surrender on 
the most honorable terms as prisoners of war, the officers 
to retain their private property and side-arms. They 
delayed the surrender, however, as long as possible, with 
the expectation of being reinforced from General Wool's 
camp. It was an express condition in the capitulation 
that the Mexican guide, who had been forced by Major 
Gaines to act in that capacity, should have a fair trial, 
and if he was acquitted, he should be released. The 
Mexicans at first objected to this, but Captain Clay said 
he would die before he would surrender the unfortunate 



guide without assurances of his safety. As soon as he 
was surrendered, the faithless Mexicans immediately 
murdered the poor fellow. The prisoners were then 
marched, without food or water, for thirty or forty miles 
on the road to San Luis, under an escort of eighty lan- 
cers. Major Gaines, having been allowed to ride, se- 
lected, in preference to his own charger, a blooded mare 
belonging to Sergeant Payne. 

Captain Henrie, w r hose name is familiar to all who 
have read the stirring history of Texan warfare and ad- 
venture, and who accompanied Major Gaines as an in- 
terpreter, had rendered himself extremely useful on the 
occasion of their capture, by his coolness, sagacity, and 
knowledge of the Mexican language and character. 
Captain Henrie was very anxious for a fight, and strongly 
dissuaded Major Gaines from surrendering. He told the 
men to count their bullets, and if they had one for every 
two Mexicans, it was a fair game, and he would go it. 
He also cautioned them to hit the Mexicans below their 
beards, that they might frighten off the others by their 
groans, and to give them as much misery as possible. 
One of the Mexican officers, recognizing him, cried out 
in Spanish, " I shall have the pleasure of your company 
to the city of Mexico, Captain Henrie I" u Excuse me, 
senor, I generally choose my own company replied the 
cool and courtly captain. 

It w T as the second day after their capture, and near 
the town of Salado, famous in Texan history as the place 
of the decimation of the Mier prisoners, that Major 
Gaines's high-spirited mare showing considerable rest- 
lessness, the major requested Captain Henrie, who is a 



famous rider of the Jack Hays school, to " mount her and 
takeoff the wire-edge of her spirit." The captain did 
so, and riding up to Captain Clay, carelessly remarked, 
" Clay, I am going to make a burst/'' The Mexican 
commander, half suspecting his design, placed additional 
forces at the head and rear of the column of lancers within 
which the prisoners were placed, and rode himself by 
the side of Henrie, who would pace up and down the 
line, cracking jokes with the boys, and firing up the spirit 
of the mare by various ingenious manoeuvres. At last, 
Henrie, seeing a favorable opportunity, plunged his spurs 
deep into the sides of the noble blood, and rushing against 
and knocking down three or four of the mustangs with 
their lancers, started off in full view of the whole party, 
at a rate of speed equal to the best time that Boston or 
Fashion ever made. After him rushed a dozen well 
mounted lancers, who, firing their escopetas at him, 
started off in close pursuit. But it was no race at all — 
the Kentucky blood was too much for the mustang. 
The lancers were soon distanced, and the last view they 
got of Henrie, he was flying up a steep mountain, waving 
his white handkerchief, and crying out in a voice which 
echoed afar off through the valley, " Adios, senores — 
adios, senores !" 

Our readers may fancy the intense excitement which 
this scene produced among the prisoners, and will, no 
doubt, excuse them for so far forgetting their situation 
as to give three loud cheers as they saw the gallant Hen- 
rie leaving his pursuers far behind, and safely placed 
beyond their reach. The subsequent adventures and 
sufferings of Henrie are well known to our readers. 



After many narrow escapes from the enemy and starva- 
tion, and after losing his noble mare, Henrie arrived 
safely at our camp, and gave the first authentic intelli- 
gence of the capture of Majors Gaines and Borland's 



Off Tabasco, June 22, 1847. 

Long ere this, you have no doubt received my letter 
giving an account of the Tuspan affair. Since then, this 
ship has been constantly on the move ; in fact, nearly 
the whole squadron has been very actively employed 
since Commodore Perry took the command ; he is at 
present certainly the man for the navy ; in many respects, 
he is an astonishing man — the most industrious, hard- 
working, energetic, zealous, persevering officer, of his 
rank, in our navy ; he does not spare himself, or any one 
under him. This Hike. His great powers of endurance 
astonish every one. All know he is by no means a bril- 
liant man ; but his good common sense and judgment, 
his sociable manner to his officers — no humbuggery> no 
mystery — make him respected and esteemed. 

When here a few weeks since with his squadron, for 
the purpose of filling up our water, he understood the 
Mexicans were making great preparations to receive him 



at Tabasco, should he visit them. He could not then do 
so, as I know he was obliged to be at Vera Cruz with his 
squadron at a certain time on important business. He 
sent them word, however, that he would return in a few 
days and visit them ; that his delay would give them 
more time to prepare for him. This notice they took 
advantage of to sink obstructions in the river, about five 
miles from the city, opposite which (the obstructions) 
they threw up a strong breastwork, concealed by the 
bushes and chapparal. Their fort near the city was 
also much improved, and mounted three 32-pounders and 
four field-pieces : it was built on a high hill, command- 
ing completely the channel to the city as far as the guns 
could range. On the 12th and 13th inst., as if by magic, 
nearly all the squadron assembled here from various 
points on the coast. Where dull-sailing vessels were 
stationed, and had bars to cross on corning out of the 
rivers, steamers were sent to tow them. In this way the 
commodore concentrated his squadron with astonishing 

The commodore arrived in the " Mississippi J ' on the 
13th, having stopped at the river Guasacualcos to despatch 
this ship and the Stromboli. I will give you some details, 
by way of showing the rapidity of his movements. 

The day he arrived we were ordered by telegraphic 
signal to report the number of officers, seamen, and 
marines prepared to land to-morrow.'" You must know 
that every ship had a brass field-piece on board, with a 
portion of the crew regularly trained to them, and the 
rest of the crew drilled as infantry, always ready for 
service, boats prepared, and haversacks for each man's 



provisions. &c, &c. Orders were given to prepare a 
week's provisions. The next morning all were on the 
alert, and breakfasted as soon as the hammocks were 
stowed — not knowing at what moment the signal would 
he made to "'disembark the troops." As we expected, 
the steamers were soon ordered to tow over the bar the 
bomb- vessels Stromboli and Vesuvius, the brig Washing- 
ton, gun-boat Boneta, and the schooner Spitfire, with 
Taylor's apparatus for lifting vessels over shoals, &c. 
When the steamers returned from this duty, the signal 
was made, " disembark the troops."' In a few minutes, 
nearly one thousand officers, seamen, and marines were 
in their boats astern of the different steamers — the Scor- 
pion, Vixen, and Spitfire — the commodore leading in the 

A more animated and lively scene, you cannot well 
imagine. Each ship had, in addition to her own boats, 
a large surf- boat, borrowed from the army at Vera Cruz, 
in which we built platforms, and placed on them our 
field-pieces. All the boats were provided with awnings ; 
and officers and men, except the marines, lived in them. 
The marines were on board the steamers. After all had 
crossed the bar, each steamer, the Scourge included, 
(she was lying in the river, not good for much,) took cer- 
tain vessels and boats in tow, and the expedition moved 
up the river against a strong current of four or five knots. 
It took us until the afternoon of the 15th to reach a point 
near which were the obstructions in the river. 

At two points on our passage up, the enemy opened 
with musketry on the leading steamer (the Scorpion, with 
the commodore) and boats. The guns of all the large 


vessels and the field-pieces were trained on the two 
shores as we advanced, and ready for service at a mo- 
ment's warning. At these two points the commodore 
was informed the enemy would give him a volley ; and 
at their flash our " great guns," with canister and grape, 
poured it into them, which silenced them effectually. 
None on our side were hurt— several of the enemy killed 
and wounded, as we were told in Tabasco. The expedi- 
tion arrived at the " Palms' 5 about 5 o'clock in the after- 
noon. This is a point about five miles below Tabasco 
— a short distance from the obstructions in the river, and 
near which was the concealed breastwork. As it was 
too late to land, arrangements were made to land the 
army at daylight the next morning. About dark a vol- 
ley of musketry was fired into one of the vessels, and a 
man's leg was broken — the only damage. Grape and 
canister silenced them also. At this time the vessels 
were lying within ten and twenty yards of a high bank 
covered with chapparal, bushes, &c, and the river at 
this point not more than TO or 80 yards wide. So you 
may judge of our situation if the enemy had thought 
proper to annoy us ; but the grape and canister from 
the " big guns" they could not stand. Several were 
killed by our shot at this point, although they could not 
be seen at the time. The next morning at early daylight 
the scene was again an animating one — one never to be 
forgotten by those who witnessed and participated in it. 
About 5 or 6 o'clock the commodore had two boats 
sounding for the obstructions, in charge of Lieutenants 
Alden and May. Just at this time a steamer had in tow 
the "Bonita," towing her to a position above the Palms 



— a point upon which there are seven beautiful palm 
trees — to assist in covering our landing, as it was sup- 
posed we would meet with resistance there. The steamer 
grounded, and the fact was reported to the commodore, 
who immediately remarked, that gun-boat must be 
placed off the Palms/' 5 The Germantown's boats were 
ordered to perform this duty, and at the same time one 
of her boats landed to ascertain the best point for disem- 
barking. The boats towing the gun-boat had proceeded 
very little above the Palms when they were joined by the 
boats sounding for the obstructions, as well as one or two 
other boats, when a volley of musketry was poured into 
them, wounding Lieutenant May very seriously in the 
right arm, breaking it below the elbow, and wounding 
also one or two of the Germantowm's slightly. The fire 
was instantly returned by the mortars, Rolando's howit- 
zer on the launch, and from the Bonita and Scourge. 
We heard no more of them, as they put off on horses 
a with despatch/"' having several wounded. All the offi- 
cers in the boats say it was a miracle that not more of 
our men were hurt, as the balls flew very thick. May, 
in a whale-boat, was nearest them, and thought there 
were about a hundred muskets fired. About this time 
our gallant leader gave the order " prepare to land and 
the marines and all hands being ready, he led the wav 
in his barge, with his broad pennant flying. All eyes 
watched his movements as he pulled up the river. When 
opposite the Palms, he steered for the shore, and in his 
loud, clear voice, which was heard fore and aft the whole 
line, gave the order, " Land ! — three cheers V' and three 
such cheers never before were heard — each boat striving 



to be first to obey the order. Such spirit, such enthusi- 
asm, I am confident, never was surpassed. The com- 
modore's boat was the first to strike the beach, and, I 
believe, he was the first to land. The shore was bold — 
close-to — and the bank from ten to twenty feet high. 
Imagine the apparent confusion of upwards of fifty boats, 
of all sizes, containing a thousand men, and ten pieces 
of artillery — all exerting themselves to be first on shore ; 
and in less than ten minutes from the moment the order 
was given, all were on shore, and drawn up in order of 
battle. None who did not witness the exertions of the 
officers and men that day, in dragging those field-pieces 
out of the boats and up perpendicular banks ten or twenty 
feet high, can credit it. The banks giving way under 
them, large logs in their way, chapparal bushes, &c, 
were trifles to contend against, where such a spirit of 
perseverance prevailed. And now came ,; the tug of 
war. 5 ' Here we were, nearly eighty miles in the interior 
of an enemy's country, on our way to capture a city 
containing from eight to ten thousand inhabitants : and, 
as report informed us. from two thousand to two thousand 
five hundred men under arms to oppose us, with strong 
entrenchments to pass, and a strong fort to take, before we 
could reach the city : the country unknown to us — 
through which we had to cut a road with our pioneers — 
no guide could be found to direct us. Such was our 
situation when the army was ready to move. Every 
officer and man knew that, before the sun set, a decisive 
blow would be struck ; but no one doubted the result. 
We expected many lives would be lost, as a matter 
of course ; but we felt and knew that, with Perry's deter- 



mined perseverance to conquer,, defeat was out of the 
question. The order to march was given about 8 o'clock, 
and at 4 in the afternoon we entered the city of Tabasco, 
in a full run up some of the steep streets, with the artil- 
lery. That you may form some idea of the difficulties 
we had to encounter on the march, I will mention that 
we marched less than ten miles ; to do this, we were 
eight hours on the road, which had to be cut and made 
by our pioneers under charge of Lieutenant Maynard, 
and the advance column of marines, under Captain Edson 
— through chapparal and high grass and reeds, frequently 
above their heads — the ground very uneven and full of 
holes — a vertical sun, and, in consequence of the grass 
being so high on either side of the road, we could not get 
a breath of air. It was distressing to witness so many 
gallant spirits, who, from the excessive heat, want of 
water, and over-exertion at the artillery, drop to the earth 
without a murmur. Such suffering never was witnessed. 
There were but two places on the route where we could 
get water from the river, which was then so muddy that 
you swallowed almost as much mud as water, and of 
course very warm. After a few hours' march, the road 
was strewed with the sick — gallant, noble fellows, falling 
completely exhausted. The medical corps, which was 
well organized, had their hands full ; and their kindness 
and attention to the sick was just what the navy has al- 
ways experienced at their hands. They were well pro- 
vided with men with litters, to carry the wounded and 
sick — tents, medicines, &c. ; but, before the march ended, 
additional men had to be detailed to assist them. Many 
of the officers carried canteens with liquor, and the mo- 




ment they saw a poor fellow fall, they would give him a 
"drop of comfort/ 3 which had an astonishing effect on 
him. Two or three times on the route there was some 
skirmishing, but none of our men were hurt, but several 
of the enemy killed and wounded. 

" As the steamers had orders to proceed up the river 
if they could pass the obstructions, they soon did so ; and 
when we were within two or three miles of the city, we 
heard their -'great guns," and knew they had passed the 
obstructions, and were engaged with the fort and city. 
Three cheers were given to the steamers, and our pace 
was increased. The firing was very rapid, and contin- 
ued for some time. We thought they must have some 
hot work, and all were anxious to push on ; but over such 
roads our speed could not be much increased. When 
the firing ceased, we were all anxiety to hear the result. 
We did not wait long, however ; the news soon reached 
us c that the fort and city were taken.' Just at this 
time the advanced guard saw the stars and stripes flying 
on the fort. Cheers, hearty cheers, passed along the 
line ; but the disappointment of all hands you may ima- 
gine. The field-pieces became a thousand pounds heavier 
at once. You would have been amused to have heard 
the abuse heaped upon the • bloody Mexicanos ' by Jack : 
' The bloody, cowardly rascals are not worth fighting, 
any how ; they won't stand and be licked like men :' and 
various other remarks. Jack is certainly a queer com- 

" It appears that Smith Lee, commanding the Spitfire, 
was the first to pass the obstructions. He struck on 
them ; but a good head of steam and a determined will to 



pass, soon put him over them. He had in tow at the 
time the gun-boat Bonita and several boats. After he 
had opened the way. the Scorpion, Scourge, and Vixen 
followed.* Soon the Scorpion came up. fired, and passed 
on to the city. Porter (Lee's first lieutenant) landed, by 
Lee's order, took possession of the fort, and spiked the 
guns. He brought off two handsome field-pieces of brass. 
The Mexicans ran about the time Porter was pulling on 
shore : they took but one prisoner — a fifer boy. The 
city is still in our possession ; and I believe it is the 
commodore's intention to hold it. The whole number 
of wounded on our side does not exceed a dozen — none 
killed. The foreigners in Tabasco say there were 1,800 
men under arms. The fort could easily have destroyed 
our gallant little steamers. One shot passed through the 
Spitfire's wheel-house — no other damage. We have 
taken a large quantity of arms, ammunition, &c. &c. 
Van Brunt (with his bomb- vessel, Etna, with 70 marines) 
will be left as governor of Tabasco. The Spitfire also 
remains. The commodore is still in Tabasco, but is ex- 
pected daily. 

" Thus has ended an enterprise that must always re- 
flect great credit on Commodore Perrv. He is certainlv 
the only man of his age and rank in the navy who would 
have undertaken it; no difficulties prevent his " going 
ahead." During that march, he attended in person to 
all the arrangements ; all orders emanated from him : 
and no man underwent more fatigue than himself: and 

* The Scorpion having the advantage of superior speed, (from 
having no boats in tow,) passed ahead gallantly, and received and 
returned the opening fire of the forts. The Spitfire was next en- 



after we entered the city, all the necessary precautions 
for holding it were made by him personally. You would 
not have supposed, from his appearance, that he had 
been taking more than an ordinary walk. The next 
morning he was quite fresh, and assured me he could 
take just such another walk that day. The responsibili- 
ties of the command of this squadron would kill one-half, 
at least, of our old officers. I do not know one of his 
rank who would have ordered four brigs to cross a bar 
where there is not water enough to float them. He or- 
dered the Washington, Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius to 
'anchor inside the bar of Tabasco river. ' He knew 
what water they drew, and what water was on the bar ; 
but it was the place of their commanders to get their 
vessels there. Of course they had to take every thing 
out of them but their guns and a little ammunition : after 
doing this, they w -ere forced over by steam, striking quite 
hard on getting in and coming out. These are trifles 
with Perry, when there is an object to gain. 

" I have spun you out quite a long yarn, something in 
a sailor's strain, because I thought a few details would 
amuse you. I have written in haste, as the Raritan 
may sail to-morrow, and I send this by her. The Alba- 
ny also sails for home soon. 

" The vessels of the squadron now here are, the Mis- 
sissippi, Raritan, Albany, John Adams, Germantown. 
Decatur, brigs Etna, Vesuvius, Stromboli. Washington, 
schooner Bonita, and steamers Spitfire, Scorpion, Vixen, 
and Scourge. 55 




Ho ! ho ! — fling out our starry flag unto the sunny sky ! 
Let sound the bugle and the drum with stirring notes and high ! 
Grasp now the slumbering musket, and harness on the sword, 
And stand erect and ready, for our country's voice is heard ! 

She calls unto her honest sons to claim redress for wrong ; 
To wipe away the insults deep, which they have borne too 
long : — 

She asks them in the name of Right, to hasten at her call, 
And for the cause of Justice, to conquer or to fall ! 

The Mexican hath pressed our soil — his hand hath shed the 

Of brave and gallant bosoms — and fiend-like he hath stood, 
Gloating with all a murderer's joy, as his poor victims lay 
Unburied on the desert shore — the loathsome vulture's prey ! 

The Mexican ! — where is the heart so dead to pride and shame, 
As not to feel a patriot's scorn at mention of that name ? 
A name that wakes the memory of wrongs too long endur'd — 
Of countless crimes, which call aloud for the avenging sword. 

Then, ho ! shout out the battle-cry ! — draw forth the glittering 
brand ! 

And from the soil of freemen expel the invading band !— - 

Our cause is just and righteous— meet it with dauntless brow — 

And may there be no recreant soul to fail or falter now. 

Washington, May, 1846. 




Tampico, Mexico, July 18, 1847. 

" Considerable excitement has existed in this city for 
the past two weeks, in relation to the detention, by Gen- 
eral Garay, at the town of Guautla, (pronounced Wa- 
houtla,) 140 miles from here, of one hundred and eighty 
Americans, who were recently liberated in the city of 
Mexico, and sent toward this city with a small escort. 
They are those who were taken last February at Encar- 
nacion. The renowned General Garay, in true Mexican 
style, pretended that their passports were not correct, and 
that he would be under the necessity of detaining them 
at Guautla, until he could hear from his government. 

" Six of them made their escape, and arrived in safety 
in this city, and immediately communicated the above 
facts to our governor, Col. Gates. 

" An expedition was fitted out on the 8th inst., by or- 
der of Col. Gates, and the command of it given to Col. 
De Russy, of the Louisiana regiment. The expedition 
consisted of one hundred and twenty men, and one six- 
pound field-piece ; forty men, third artillery, commanded 
by Capt. Wyse ; forty dragoons, mounted on untrained 
mustang horses, and commanded by Captain Boyd and 
Lieutenant Tonnehill, late of the Baltimore battalion ; 
and forty mounted men from the Louisiana regiment, 
commanded by Captains Mace and Seguine. Lieuten- 
ants Lindenburger, Campbell, and Heimberger, of the 
Louisiana regiment, accompanied the expedition, to act 
in such capacities as might be required. 



" Their march for four days was uninterrupted, pass 
ing through the towns of Puebla-Viejs, Tampico-Alto 
Ozuama, and Tantayoca, in all of which the peopla 
made professions of friendship, and had got within seven 
miles of Guautla, eight miles beyond the last-mentioned 
town, and one mile from Rio Calabasa. Here the colo- 
nel met an Indian, who informed him that a large force 
of Mexicans, under the command of Garay, had heard 
of his approach, and was in ambush on both sides of the 
river. Col. De Russy immediately despatched Lieut. 
Lindenburger, acting adjutant, with an order to halt the 
column (advanced guard) under command of Capt. Boyd. 
The captain had halted at the river for the purpose of 
watering his horses, and while in that act, he received a 
destructive fire from an unseen enemy. As I said be- 
fore, the horses were all mustangs, and at the report of 
the musketry they became unmanageable, threw most 
of the riders, and created great confusion. Capt. Boyd 
dashed across the river, followed by his lieutenant and 
six men. In crossing, the captain was shot in the head, 
and died on reaching the opposite shore. Three of the 
men were also killed. All this took place before Lieut. 
Lindenburger reached him. The remainder succeeded 
in crossing the river, and joined the main body. Thus 
fell one of the bravest and finest men that ever lived. 

" On hearing the report of musketry from the opposite 
bank of the river, the Mexicans concealed on this side 
commenced firing on the main body of the expedition 
from every side, when Capt. Wyse came gallantly into 
action with his field-piece, and opened a destructive fire 
on the enemy with grape and canister. At the same 


time Capts. Mace and Seguine charged the enemy on 
the right and left in the most spirited manner. The bat- 
tle now raged with great fury on both sides for an hour, 
when the Mexicans sounded a retreat, at least that por- 
tion of them in front. 

u The colonel now discovered a large body of lancers 
approaching him in the rear, but before he succeeded in 
getting within reach of them, they captured a portion of 
the pack mules, and then took to their heels. 

" During the engagement Lieut. Tonnehill was mor- 
tally wounded, a ball passing through his thigh and 
breaking the bone. The six men at the cannon were all 
severely wounded. Three bullets passed through Col. 
De Russy's coat, and as many through Capt. Wyse's. 
Capt. Mace was struck twice with spent balls, but not 

" After the engagement, to the astonishment of all, 
only one round shot and one charge of canister was left 
for the gun, when, our troops having fired away the 
greater part of their ammunition, it was deemed pru- 
dent to fall back on Tantayoca, which was accordingly 

" The road from the river to Tantayoca lay through 
a narrow defile, the summits of the mountains nearly 
hanging over the heads of the men as they passed through 
it. The deep and precipitous sides were covered with a 
dense chapparal from base to top. Here the enemy ral- 
lied, and, concealing themselves from view, poured a 
destructive fire down upon our gallant little band, which, 
from the nature of the ground, they were unable to re. 



" On approaching Tantayoca, in which they had en- 
camped the previous night, and from which they had 
started peaceably that morning, our men found, to their 
surprise, that the plaza, church, and streets, were 
crowded with lancers and other troops. They marched 
up boldly to the enemy, until they got within a few hun- 
dred yards of the plaza, when they opened to the right and 
left, and gave Captain Wyse an opportunity to discharge 
his last round shot. It did some execution, killing and 
wounding some three or four, and also making a tre- 
mendous hole in the walls of the church. Colonel De 
Russy, with Captain Seguine, at the same time made a 
charge up the street, when the Mexicans, for the second 
time, took to their heels, returning only a few scattering 
shots. The lowest estimate I have heard made of the 
number of Mexicans engaged in this affair was 1000. 
Some say as many as 2000 or 3000. Our troops now 
took possession of the town, and encamped on the same 
ground they had occupied the previous night, (Sunday 
the 11th inst.) 

" A detachment was now sent through the town to 
search for ammunition ; and they succeeded in finding 
enough to make five rounds of canister, which at this 
time was an invaluable prize. 

" A number of the men, contrary to orders, broke open 
both stores and houses, and helped themselves to every 
thing valuable they could lay their hands on ; and fore- 
most among them, were the Mexican muleteers who 
accompanied the colonel. They appeared to be old 
hands at the business. 

"After our troops encamped, they could see large 



bodies of the enemy moving to the rear of them, for the 
purpose of cutting off their farther retreat ; but both 
men and horses were so exhausted, that it was deter- 
mined to remain in their present position for a short time 
to rest. 

" Near dark, General Garay's aid-de-camp and a 
major of the staff, came near Colonel De Russy's camp, 
with a flag of truce. The colonel did not allow them 
to enter his camp, but met them a short distance outside 
of it. The colonel was accompanied ^by Captain Wyse. 
The aid handed the colonel a letter. The colonel told 
him, in substance, < that it was too dark to read it, and 
that he had no candles or light, probably he, the aid, 
could tell him the purport of it.' The aid (who spoke 
English fluently) replied, ' that it was a summons for 
an unconditional surrender, as General Garay had suf- 
ficient men and means to conquer him, and he wished 
to spare an effusion of blood.' Colonel De Russy im- 
mediately returned the letter, unopened, to the aid ; and 
he told him to ' tell General Garay that the idea of sur- 
render had never entered his mind, and he therefore 
declined any correspondence on that subject' — when 
the aid and major, after the usual compliments, retired. 

" Col. De Russy now ordered camp-fires to be made, 
and all the horses to be unsaddled ; and every thing had 
the appearance, to the Mexicans, of his remaining there 
all night. In this, however, they were deceived ; for 
the colonel took up his line of march at 2 o'clock, A. M ., 
during one of the heaviest rain storms ever experienced, 
and passed silently through the city. They took the 
road for Penuca, passing in a contrary direction to the 



one he had come by, and on which Garay was en- 
camped, and was ten miles from Tantayoca when day- 
light overtook him. 

" At 10 o'clock, A. M., the lancers and guerillas again 
came in sight, and hung in the rear of the detachment 
all day, spearing and shooting down, without mercy, 
such unfortunate persons as straggled off from the main 
body. On one occasion, a large body of lancers col- 
lected in a group, when Captain Wyse gave them a 
salute with a charge of canister, and made great havoc 
among both horses and riders, killing and wounding 
about thirty men ; and from that time they kept at a 
respectful distance. 

" The Mexicans followed our little detachment for two 
days, occasionally exchanging a few shots. Lieutenant 
Heimberger was shot in the arm during the retreat the 
first day. When Colonel De Russy got within fifteen 
miles of Penuca, he despatched Mr. George Lefler, an 
old citizen of this place, to Colonel Gates, giving him an 
account of his position, and informing him of their being 
entirely out of ammunition, and a large body of the 
enemy in his rear. 

" Colonel Gates immediately despatched Lieutenant- 
Colonel Marks to his relief with 160 men, two pieces of 
cannon, and plenty of ammunition. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Marks went to Penuca with his command per steamboat, 
where he met Colonel De Russy and his command, com- 
pletely tired out, and almost without a cartridge. As 
there was an attack anticipated the following night' on 
this place, both parties returned. 

66 Thus ended one of the most brilUant affairs, for the 

a soldier's letter. 


numbers engaged in it, (terminating with a masterly re- 
treat,) which have taken place during this war. 

" Our loss on the occasion was about thirty killed, 
wounded, and missing ; while that of the Mexicans is set 
down at 150 killed and wounded." 


Engineer Camp, near Vera Cruz, April 2d, 1847. 
I find, my dear mother, that there is more truth than 
poetry in the old saying, " there's no rest for the wicked," 
for I have had about as much as I could attend to on my 
hands, ever since this kennel capitulated. On the morn- 
ing after I wrote the letter to father, the garrison marched 
out, with music playing and colors flying — they then 
stacked their arms and colors, and " vamossed the 
ranch." — On the southern side of the city, there is along 
narrow lagoon, running nearly north and south ; around 
this, and between it and the city, is a large level meadow. 
It was here that the ceremony took place. They issued 
from the gate of Mercy to the tune of that infernal old 
" che-wang-a-wang, che-wang-a-wang," which may well 
be called " the tune the old cow died of," — halted on 
this meadow, between our troops, who were drawn up in 
two lines, one on each side of the meadow, and about 
400 yards apart. At a signal, they laid down their arms 
and accoutrements, filed out, and marched on towards 
Alvarado, our troops presenting arms as they marched 
by. I took such a position that they passed within ten 


a soldier's letter. 

feet of me as they marched on. First came a company 
of sappers, clothed in white ; then a gayly-dressed band, 
followed by its regiment (one of the line), &c. They 
were nearly 4000 in all — some dressed entirely in 
w T hite — some with white jackets and pants, and scarlet 
caps — some in blue — in short, dressed off in all kinds of 
colors. Their uniforms were coarse and cheap. The 
men looked like mere barbarians. Some of the officers 
were fine looking men ; the majority of them very poor 
specimens of humanity. I observed some few — very 
few — officers, who were evidently very much affected by 
their humiliating position ; but the great mass of officers 
and men appeared too brutish to have any feeling in the 
matter. I could not help feeling that we were fighting a 
nation far, very far beneath us. They are not " worthy 
of our steel/"' although I must confess that the rascals 
can send their confounded shot and shells as thickly about 
one's ears as it is desirable to have them. Altogether 
it was a motley procession — ranch eros, officers, soldiers, 
women, children, mustangs, burros, burristos, parrots, 
dogs, monkeys, and heaven knows what else, for I don't. 
It was a proud moment for us when we saw our noble 
old stars and stripes rise slowly over San Juan and the 
city. The next instant we were fairly deafened by the 
sound of artillery firing salutes to it. From the castle, 
the works around the town, our light batteries, breast 
batteries, from our own and the foreign vessels in harbor, 
pealed forth one great salvo of artillery in honor of our 
beautiful flag. I know not which was the most magnifi- 
cent, the beginning or the end. 

I landed with the first, in Worth's brigade ; about 

a soldier's letter. 


3000 were landed in the surf- boats at the same time. We 
were first collected in two long lines, in tow of the 
Princeton, and when all was ready were cast off and 
pulled steadily in four lines to the shore. Just as we 
cast off from the Princeton, a round shot whistled over 
our heads, and we all thought, " Now for it — they are 
going to pitch into us V' but it was a shot from one of our 
own gun-boats at some Mexicans on a sandhill. Oh, if 
the fools had had sense enough to have placed a dozen out 
of their 256 pieces of artillery in battery on the sand 
hills, but few of us would ever have reached that shore ; 
the destruction would have been awful. Every moment, 
from the instant we left the Princeton, did we expect to 
hear and feel their shot crashing amongst us, but we 
rowed on and on. every ear strung to its utmost tension 
— every eye straining to see the expected flash. Not a 
word was said amongst us, or those we left behind us in 
the fleet — for they were more anxious for us than we 
were for ourselves ; we had the intense excitement to 
carry us through. But when the first boat struck the 
shore, there arose a shout from the fleet, which was taken 
up by us, and carried on from boat to boat, from ship to 
ship — a sound so cheerful, so full of life, so indicative of 
confidence, of joy, and strength, I never expect to hear 
again, unless in battle. It was a stirring sound, and fol- 
lowed by a splendid sight, in which fine discipline ap- 
peared (for we were all regulars). As the boats struck, 
the color-bearers ran to their places, and the men formed 
upon them ; in an instant there were formed in line of 
battle along the beach, two regiments of artillery and 
four of infantry ; in another we advanced over the sand 



hills, and found that the most dangerous part of our work 
was over, without the loss of a man. Six regiments , of 
regulars were established on the shore, and we knew 
that nothing in Mexico could drive us back. We landed 
with four days' provisions in our haversacks (hard bread 
and ham), and our overcoats. We bivouacked in the 
sand that night, but were aroused about one o'clock by 
musket balls singing around us. It turned out to be a 
little skirmish between some riflemen and the piquet, a 
short distance from us. The investment was commenced 
on the next morning. We took our position with the 3d 
artillery on the right of the army on a most interesting 
bare sand hill, where we were almost burned to death. 
The Mexicans in the Castle and Santiago amused them- 
selves by firing at us with their heaviest pieces, but 
could not reach us by 200 yards or so ; the men were 
crackhig their jokes at them continually. About 1 
o'clock, we (Company " A ") were ordered over towards 
Malibran, where there was some skirmishing. We cut 
a road to that place, or as far as the railroad. Here we 
had quite a lively little skirmish, between about twenty 
of our men and a party of Mexicans. We ••' ran them 
off," however. I took a shot at one fellow, but don't 
think I touched him. — We then went back to Malibran, 
and bivouacked there, wet to our waists — hard bread and 
ham for supper (water of course). Malibran is a ruined 
convent at or near the head of the lagoon I spoke of. It 
must be at least three hundred years old, and is a curious 
old place. The walls are made up in a great measure 
of earthen pots filled with sand. It abounds with queer 
cells. <Scc. The next morning we cut a road up to some 

a soldier's letter. 


bare sand hills, which had been occupied the evening 
before by the Pennsylvania troops without opposition. 
It was very troublesome and hard work, for the chappa- 
ral was very thick, and the round shot, shells, and esco- 
pette balls, intended for other parties, fell in. around and 
amongst us. all the time. It was on this day that Capt. 
Alburtis was killed, and on this very road — the shot 
which killed him taking off the leg of a soldier near by. 
On this same morning, near the same place, one of the 
mounted rifles was killed, and several volunteers wounded, 
among them the lieutenant -colonel of the South Caro- 
lina regiment. Late in the afternoon we returned to our 
old place on the right, and bivouacked again in the sand. 

I will write another letter to-morrow, if I have time, 
and try to give you some idea of the siege. — We are 
now encamped on the sea beach. Every exertion is 
being made to leave these diggins as soon as possible. 
Our next move is on Jalapa. We expect some opposi- 
tion at Puerte del Rev. but will probably " turn it"' by 
means of our ponton train. I think we must have peace 
in a month or so — if not then. I don ; t think the war will 
be over in less than lour or five years. I should think 
that they were now sufficiently well thrashed to convince 
them that they have not gained the victory. M'"C. 





Buena Vista, Mexico, May 10, 1847. 

From the comments of the press, the numerous letters 
that have been written and published, the many false and 
ridiculous statements uttered by different persons at. sun- 
dry places concerning the battle at this place on the 22d 
and 23d February last, and more particularly in conse- 
quence of the erroneous statements invented and circu- 
lated in reference to the Indiana brigade in connexion 
with that memorable day, I feel myself constrained, in 
discharge of an imperious duty, to give to the public a 
succinct account of facts which may enable every candid 
reader to arrive at correct conclusions, and that the pub- 
lic mind may be disabused of a studied and systematic 
attempt at misrepresentation and detraction. 

The disposition of the troops seems to have been con- 
fided to General Wool, and were posted in the following 
order — viz., the 2d regiment of Indiana volunteers, com- 
manded by Colonel Bowles, with three pieces of artillery 
under Captain O'Brien, were posted on the extreme left. 
The 3d regiment of Indiana volunteers, commanded by 
Colonel Lane, occupied a height in rear of Washington's 1 
battery ; the 1st Illinois regiment, commanded by Colonel 
Hardin, was stationed on a high hill near, and a short 
distance to the left and front of the same battery ; the 2d 
Kentucky volunteers, under Colonel McKee, were on the 
22d posted on the right of a deep ravine, at a distance of 
half a mile on the right of the battery, but on the morn- 


ing of the 23d were ordered to cross the ravine, and 
took position near Colonel Hardin, and to his left. The 
2d regiment Illinois volunteers, under Colonel Bissell, 
were posted further to the left, and in the rear, and to 
the right, at a distance of about half a mile from where 
the 2d Indiana regiment were placed — which regiment, 
as before remarked, occupied the extreme left of the 
field, near the base of the mountain. The four rifle 
companies of my command, under Major Gorman, were 
at early dawn of day ordered to r move up the side of the 
mountain to engage the enemy, some three thousand 
strong, who were endeavoring to cross the points of the 
mountain, and to turn our left flank. These riflemen 
were directed to check their advance, if possible. Three 
rifle companies of the 2d Illinois regiment, and three 
companies of Colonel Marshall's mounted regiment, were 
dismounted and sent up the mountain to the assistance 
of Major Gorman, who had now been for some time hotly 
engaged with the enemy. The contest on the mountain 
brow raged with fury for about the space of three hours, 
when I was informed by Colonel Churchill that the ene- 
my in great force were advancing under cover of a deep 
ravine, about four hundred yards in my front, and to the 
right. I immediately put my small command in motion 
to meet them. It should be borne in mind, that my 
whole force was the eight battalion companies of the 2d 
Indiana regiment, and Captain O'Brien's battery of three 
guns — in all, about four hundred men. On arriving on 
a narrow ridge, between two deep and rugged ravines, 
I found the Mexican infantry, from four to six thousand 
strong, supported by a body of lancers ; the infantry were 


& E :\ . lane's description of 

coming up out of the ravine on my left, and forming in 
beautiful order across the ridge, leaving the lancers in 
the ravine: I immediately directed Captain O'Brien to 
halt his battery, and get ready for the fray. The col- 
umn was halted when the first company was up with, 
and on the left of the battery, and formed forward into 
line of battle. I rode in front of the column, and contin- 
ued in front, as the companies were forming into line, 
and was much delighted to see the officers and men move 
forward in good order. Coolness and courage were de- 
picted on every countenance. By the time that half the 
companies were in line, and while I was yet in front, 
the Mexicans opened their fire from their entire line. 
In a moment, the left companies were in line. I passed 
to the rear, and the fire was returned with promptness 
and good effect. Thus commenced the battle on the 
plain of Buena Visra. The distance between the enemy's 
line and my own was about one hundred and twenty 
yards. About the time the action commenced, the ene- 
my opened a tremendous fire from their battery of three 
heavy guns posted on my left, and a little to the rear, 
which nearly enfiladed my line. In this manner the bat- 
tle continued to rage for near twenty-five minutes, the 
firing being very severe on both sides — the lines of the 
Mexican infantry presenting one continued sheet of 
flame. I observed the Mexican line to break and fall 
back several times ; but their successive formations 
across the ridge enabled them at once to force the men 
back to their position, and keep them steady. I then 
formed the determination to take position nearer the ene- 
my, with the hope of routing and driving them from that 



part of the field, and for the purpose of placing the line 
out of the jange of the enemy's guns, which had succeed- 
ed in getting the range, so as to be doing some execution 
nearly every fire. For that purpose I sent my aid to 
direct Captain O'Brien to advance his battery some fifty 
or sixty yards to the front, and to return to me to assist 
in passing an order to the line to advance to the same 
point. He went with the battery to its advanced posi- 
tion. I was at that moment near the left of my line. 
Before my aid returned to me, I was much surprised to 
see my line begin to give way on the right, and continu- 
ing to give way to the extreme left, not knowing at that 
time that Colonel Bowles had given an order to retreat ; 
and it was several days after the battle (and not until 
after I had made my official report) before I was satisfied 
that the regiment had retreated in obedience to an order 
given by Colonel Bowles. This order was not obeyed 
until it had been twice repeated, as has since been proven 
in a court of inquiry appointed to inquire into the con- 
duct of the colonel. Lieutenant-Colonel Haddon and 
twelve other good witnesses have testified to his having 
twice or thrice given the order before the line broke, so 
unwilling were they to abandon their position. The 2d 
regiment occupied an important position — it was the key 
to that part of the field — and were unsupported by any 
other troops. 

An evidence of their being in a very hot place is, that 
about ninety of them were killed and wounded before 
they retreated. They had stood firmly, doing their duty 
as well as ever did veteran troops, until they had dis- 
charged over twenty rounds of cartridges at the enemy, 



killing and wounding some five hundred of them ; and I 
have no hesitation in saying, that if it had not been for 
that unnecessary, unauthorized, and cowardly order to 
retreat, they would not have left their position. I hesi- 
tate not to express my belief, that if my order to advance 
had been carried out, and we had taken the advanced 
position, as intended, we would have driven the enemy 
from the ridge. 

Although the men retired in some confusion, the 
most of them were soon rallied — say to the number of 
two hundred and fifty — and they continued to fight like 
veterans throughout the day. Lieutenant Robinson (my 
aid-de-camp) and Lieutenant-Colonel Haddon were very 
active in rallying the men. Major Cravens was ordered 
to proceed to the ranclie and bring back such of our men 
as had gone in that direction ; which was promptly done. 
Captains Davis, Kimball, McRea, Briggs, Lieutenant 
Spicely (then in command of his company in consequence 
of the fall of the gallant and lamented Kinder), Lieuten- 
ants Shanks, Hoggatt, Burwell, Lewis, Foster, Benafiel. 
Kunkle, Lowdermilk, Roach, Rice, and Zenor, with the 
most of the company officers, were also very active in 
rallying their men. Captain Sanderson and Lieutenants 
Davis, Hogan, and Cayce (and several other officers), 
were wounded, and had to leave the field, as also Captain 
Dennis ; who had fought like a hero, with gun in hand, 
until he found himself unable, from fatigue and indispo- 
sition, to remain longer on the field. 

Paymaster Major Dix, having arrived on the field at 
this moment, was very active in assisting to rally our 
broken and scattered forces. He seized the colors from 



their bearer, who was unable to carry them longer, and 
handed them to Lieutenant Kunkle, who carried them 
triumphantly throughout the day. 

These colors, now in the possession of Captain Sand- 
erson, were well riddled with balls ; one 24-pound shot, 
one 6-pound shot, and many musket-balls passed through 
them while they were in the hands of this meritorious 
young officer ; and they could at all times be seen high 
above the heads of the Indiana brigade, moving to and 
fro, wherever it was necessary to meet and repulse the 
enemy. Lieutenant (now Captain) Peck, of the rifle bat- 
talion, who had been compelled to retire from the moun- 
tain to the plain, and after the fall of his gallant old cap- 
tain (Walker) succeeded in rallying about twenty men 
and joining the 2d Indiana regiment, continued to fight 
gallantly throughout the day. The severe loss in killed 
and wounded which the 2d Indiana regiment sustained 
in the action, will convey some idea of the danger they 
faced, and the tenacity with which they struggled. One 
hundred and seven of their number were killed and 

At or about the time of the retreat of my small com- 
mand under that ill-fated order, the riflemen were com- 
pelled, by superior numbers to abandon their position: 
on the mountain side, and retreat to the plain below. 
The cavalry, which had been posted some distance in my 
rear, and out of range of the enemy's battery, to act as 
circumstances might require — either to advance upon the 
enemy, and cut them off, in case they should retreat ; or 
to succor my small force if they should be compelled to 
fall back — instead of affording me the least assistance, 



left their position without receiving one fire from the en- 
emy, and made a precipitate retreat to the rear, along 
the foot of the mountain, pursued by a large body of lan- 
cers, who succeeded in cutting off and slaughtering quite 
a number of our forces — most of them riflemen. If they 
had made a bold stand, and allowed the riflemen and 
the 2d Indiana regiment to rally on them, all together 
would have been a force sufficient to check the enemy 
before he had gained any considerable advantage. After 
these successive and almost simultaneous retreats of the 
different forces on the left, it remained wholly undefend- 
ed ; and the enemy — numbering several thousands — came 
pouring down from the mountain and from the front, and 
formed in good order along the foot of the mountain, in 
the rear of the position at first occupied by our forces. 
Soon after the retreat of the 2d. and while I was rallying 
them, the Mississippi regiment arrived on the field, and 
in a most gallant manner engaged the enemy, but were 
compelled, by vastly superior numbers, to fallback. At 
this time the 3d Indiana regiment, under Colonel Lane, 
was ordered into the fight, and, joined with the 2d Indiana 
and Mississippi regiments, composed a force about one- 
fifth as large as the enemy, but sufficient to engage them 
with success. Captain Sherman, with one gun of his 
battery, at this time joined us, and the whole moved to- 
wards the foot of the mountain, and engaged the enemy. 
Here the artillery proved very effective. This portion 
of the enemy's force became at length so closely pressed, 
and our artillery continuing to waste them away with its 
destructive fire, and they being separated from the ene- 
my's main force, would in a short time have been com- 


pelled to surrender, when a white flag was seen on the 
field, and we were ordered to cease firing. We did so ; 
but the Mexicans continued to fire from their battery, 
thus covering the retreat of their forces. This flag was 
sent to the left wing from General Taylor, in consequence 
of Santa Anna's having sent to him a flacr. which the 
general naturally supposed conveyed propositions either 
of truce or surrender. Hence the white flag on our part 
of the battle-field. This flag proved to be nothing more 
than a stratagem of the Mexican general to extricate that 
portion of his troops w r hich he saw was absolutely in our 
power. During the delay caused by this interchange of 
flags, this portion of his army, so completely within our 
power, moved off, and made good their retreat to where 
the enemy's main force was posted. We now moved 
some distance, and took position to meet a large body of 
lancers, supported by about 2000 infantry. The Mis- 
sissippi and a portion of the 2d Indiana were formed 
across a narrow ridge between two deep ravines, sup- 
ported by one gun from Captain Sherman's battery ; and 
the other part of the 2d Indiana and all of the 3d Indiana 
regiment, were on the brow of one of the ravines, and 
parallel to the same, the line being nearly in the shape 
of an L, and faced by the rear rank. The charge was 
made on the left flank of the 3d Indiana — now right, as 
they were faced. This charge, it is due the enemy to 
say, was made most gallantly, and w T as beautifully re- 
ceived by our forces, delivering our fire w r hen they were 
within a short distance. It proved most destructive to 
the enemy, felling many a horse and his rider, breaking 
their columns, and putting them to flight, leaving many 
of their companions dead on the field. Soon after this 

258 ben. lane's description of 

successful repulse of the enemy, the field on the left was 
completely cleared of the enemy 's forces : and hearing a 
sharp and continued firing on our right, and to the left 
of Washington's battery. I put my command in motion 
at double quick time, for the purpose of taking pan in 
the conflict. This fire proved to be a severe action be- 
tween the entire Mexican infantry, and the 1st and 2d 
Illinois,, and 2d Kentucky volunteers : which was Santa 
Anna's last and great effort. These forces had been re- 
pulsed by overwhelming numbers, and were retreating 
in confusion, hotly pursued by thousands of Mexicans, 
who were loading and firing on our men at every jump ; 
when my command, consisting of the 2d and 3d Indiana 
and Mississippi regiments, arrived within musket-shot, 
which we did by corning up suddenly out of a deep ra- 
vine, and opened a destructive fire upon them. Finding 
themselves thus suddenly attacked from an unexpected 
quarter, they quit the pursuit, formed promptly into line, 
and returned our fire with considerable effect ; but they 
in turn were compelled to retreat, under our well-direct- 
ed fire, to the position they had occupied in the morning. 

This was the last firing between the infantry of the 
opposing forces on that memorable day, although the 
cannon continued to play at intervals until dark. 

The battle on the plain was opened, as has been 
shown, by the 2d Indiana regiment : and the last mus- 
ketry fired, were fired by the 2d and 3d Indiana and 
Mississippi regiments. 

It should also be stated that our forces had been under 
arms since the morning of the 22d. and remained upon 
the field of battle till the morning of the 24th. 

I have here given a brief and faithful account of the 



operations of the Indiana brigade on the 23d February, 
as came under my observations ; and there was not one 
minute, from the time the battle commenced until the 
last gun fired, that I was not with them. 

Captain O'Brien, who commanded the battery of light- 
artillery posted on my right, at the commencement of the 
battle, as well as Captain Sherman, who acted with us a* 
part of the day, are deserving of particular praise for 
their gallantry and good conduct, moving and discharg- 
ing their pieces with all the coolness and precision of 
a day of ordinary parade. 

The intrepid and honorable conduct of the 2d Ken- 
tucky, and 1st and 2d Illinois volunteers, could not have 
been exceeded; and no commendation of mine could 
add lustre to the glory which should, and will be theirs. 
There is enough of honor and glory for each man who 
did his duty at Buena Vista. And he must be an un- 
charitable and selfish American citizen, who would, 
knowingly, wish to detract from any portion of that glo- 
rious little army, with a desire to augment that of any 
one corps, at the expense of another. The many gallant 
officers and men, who did their duty on that day, should 
not suffer by invidious comparison. 

If I have neglected to particularize the conduct of 
the Arkansas and Kentucky cavalry, or to define their 
position on the field, it is not because I deemed them of 
little moment or importance ; but for the reason, that 
from the time of their retreat, I had no opportunity of 
seeing any thing of their movements. They partici- 
pated in the ranche fight, where the gallant Yell nobly 
fell at the head of his column : he, with the noble souls 



who fell on that day, should never be forgotten. The 
ambition of distinction should never prompt us to deface 
any portion of the tablet of fame, which our country will 
erect to the honor of the actors in that battle ; and the 
regular and volunteer army should be proud of it, as 
one of the greatest epochs in our country's history. 

It is due to the commanders of the different batteries 
of light artillery to state, that their efforts were most 
powerful and efficient towards gaining the almost unpa- 
ralleled victory of Buena Yista. Ready at all times to 
meet the enemy at fearful odds, their guns wasted them 
away with their fire in a handsome manner, compelling 
them to retreat whenever coming within their range. 

Generals Taylor and Wool were present as com- 
manders (the former as commander-in-chief). They 
were exposed to dangers almost every instant of the 
day, watching the movements of the enemy, and order- 
ing and disposing of our forces in the best manner to 
meet and repel them. By their coolness and courage 
in gaining this victory, they have won laurels and a 
fame, that shall endure as long as traces of American 
history shall exist. 

Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Joseph Laxe, Brig. Gen. 




Pico, brother to the Governor of California, had been 
dismissed by the Americans on parole, and was re-cap- 
tured in the very act of breaking it. He was leading 
an insurrection cruel to the army, and devastating to the 
country, and the soldiers now clamored for his death. 
The haughty chieftain was brought before Colonel Fre- 
mont, identified, and subsequently condemned by court 
martial to death. Through ail the examination and de- 
livery of the sentence he remained cool and composed, 
and learned that he must die. with the solemn dignity of a 

The hour of twelve was fixed for the execution, and 
the intervening time was solemn, even to the American 
commander. He had faced death amid the hurry of the 
battle-field with impunity : but something so repulsive 
seemed to lie in the idea of coolly executing a prisoner 
of war, that the brave heart shrunk from it with appre- 
hension. As the time approached, the colonel retired to 
his room, and remained almost alone. Suddenly, about 
eleven o'clock, a noise was heard without, and before any 
one had time to ascertain its cause, a company of ladies 
and children rushed into the room, threw themselves on 
their knees, and with all the eloquence of passion begged 
that the husband and father might be spared. Young 
lips, which had often pressed those of the prisoner in 
pride and happiness, now quivered as they pleaded in 
agony for his life. The stern officer turned from the 
scene, while thoughts of other beings, far away, crowded 



upon him. His noble heart was unprepared for such an 
event, and humanity obtained the victory over discipline. 
Raising the mother, he exclaimed solemnly, " He is par- 
doned !" Then, what a change ! Blessings, loud and 
many, were showered upon the commander, and his grat- 
ified attendants ; and tears of despair were changed to 
those of joy and ecstasy. 

The thought now occurred to Colonel Fremont to 
send for the prisoner, and permit him to hear of his re- 
prieve in the presence of those most dear to him. It was 
done. There was no room for explanations. The coun- 
tenances of all present told him of his good fortune ; and 
when it was confirmed by the word of the colonel, the 
effect was overpowering. He had borne misfortune and 
disgrace, but he could not bear the news of pardon. 
With impetuous emotion he flung himself before Colonel 
Fremont, clasped his knees, swore eternal fidelity, and 
begged the privilege of fighting and dying for him. 

The country is now restored to peace and order ; and 
there is no firmer friend to Colonel Fremont in it, than 
his former inveterate antagonist, Pico. 


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Treatment Date: May 2010 



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